SE Bullitt Fire Dept. sees big changes after resignation of former chief Julius Hatfield
Julius Hatfield's plaque is still up at the Southeast Bullitt Fire Department and what will happen to it is still being determined, but the new chief is making some changes a couple months after Hatfield resigned.
"This was here when I got here," fire chief Erik Butler said pointing to an old fire truck. "It's my favorite truck, but it served its purpose. We were poor once. There is a fire department called Fedscreek, we're donating it to them."
Just like that, old fire trucks are being replaced by newer ones that are used. Butler says things are improving, as the department gets ready for an open house.
"The changes I have seen have been morale," Maj. Wayne Bowles, a SE Bullitt Firefighter for 10 years, said. "The morale has changed. It's better. People are hanging out at the fire station. The volunteers, the paid guys seem to be happier."
"Now we have uniforms," Butler said. "We look like somebody now instead of a bunch of hillbillies."
Butler says once he became Chief, he made some changes. "I made this a family oriented place. Anybody can come up."
Lots of trucks and equipment in the fire department are gone and an RV command center was sold.
Butler supports it being sold. "If it was done the way it was envisioned yes, but it wasn't done that way," he said.
The dualie truck that Hatfield was using is also gone. Instead, the department says it purchased two, more practical Ford F-150's, new boots and helmets for the firefighters -- along with new air packs.
Butler says even little things -- like having lockers for the first time -- help the morale at the department. He's says it's a big change from when Hatfield was in charge.
"It has been a challenge," Butler said. "It's been a challenge. We've had numerous hurdles to jump over. I've got a great bunch of guys. The corporation board and district board, I mean they back me 101 percent. Everything has been pretty smooth."
Hatfield resigned on Feb. 1 and the Bullitt County Sheriff's Department says its investigation is on-going. They're looking into Hatfield for alleged insurance fraud, abuse of public trust and other charges.
Butler's changes to the Dept. also include manning some of those "empty firehouses", with a goal next year of having paid employees at the firehouses during the day.
"Station four, the one down the street, I've got five volunteers now where I didn't have nothing down there," Butler said. "EMS stays down there in the building."
Firefighters say an open house on Saturday will be the first time in history that this department has been open to the public for tours.
There will be snow cones, cotton candy, a grill out and other activities for the family. There will also be a dunk tank and Butler says he'll be the first one in there.
The open house is from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.
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