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Bronson fire chief resigns

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Council caught off guard

By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, according to the age-old adage. 

But the letter of resignation turned in by Bronson Fire Chief Jeff Dimaggio Monday has Bronson officials scratching their heads as to the source of the flames.

“I don’t know,” said Council Member Berlon Weeks, “I just don’t think you should accept his resignation.” 

Weeks said he didn’t want Dimaggio to leave and thought town representatives should first make an effort to talk with him to find out what the issue was.

“I can’t make heads or tails out of this letter today,” Vice Mayor Beatrice Roberts said, suggesting that the letter of resignation hit her by surprise.

At the last meeting in December, a meeting Dimaggio was not present at, council discussed a recent proposal submitted by the chief outlining several options to merge with the levy County Department of Public Safety’s fire department. Dimaggio’s proposal stated that Bronson Fire and Rescue would be better served by the merger, having more adequate resources to cover emergencies.

But council members have repeatedly expressed their disinterest in merging with the county. And it was the same story at Bronson’s December meeting. The council, in short, decided it needed to find out if Dimaggio was still interested in being chief without a merger between the two departments taking place. 

Council member Aaron Edmondson, who is over the fire department, said then he’d try to get together with the chief to find out his position on the matter because he had not had much communication with Dimaggio in recent weeks. Dimaggio has not been to the last several council meetings. But Monday night, Edmondson revealed the two had still not had a chance to meet.

“Probably, during that meeting, he should have had the opportunity to come back … and face the council,” Council member Bruce Greenlee said, adding that Dimaggio might have felt like he was being attacked by the council’s strong position.

Edmondson said he, personally, didn’t mean to come off that way, if that’s how it was interpreted.

Both Edmondson and Council Member Berlon Weeks reiterated the council’s position on a merger with the county but said they didn’t feel that issue was a reflection of Dimaggio’s performance as chief.

“Jeff, “Edmondson said, “we never turned him down for nothin’. So, I don’t know what his problem is.”

“He has not failed as a chief at all,” Weeks said. “He has been a fantastic chief.”

A Bronson firefighter in the audience spoke up and said the proposals sent in by Dimaggio regarding a merger were only to foster discussion on the direction the council wanted to go in.

Roberts asked why Dimaggio just didn’t say that out right. 

“Just try to get him to come to the meeting next time,” she said.