COSMOPOLIS, Wash. — Dozens of community members attended a rally in Cosmopolis Wednesday, showing their support for members of the volunteer fire department who resigned over a dispute with the town's mayor.
Members of the all-volunteer force said they can no longer do their jobs safely under budget constraints imposed by Cosmopolis Mayor Kyle Pauley.
“The root of it is not taking care of the fire department and not taking care of bills like they were supposed to,” said former Cosmopolis volunteer firefighter Jerry Schreck.
In December, the Cosmopolis Volunteer Firefighters Association announced their mass resignation in a three-page letter to citizens.
The Cosmopolis mayor issued a state of emergency after all volunteer firefighters officially stepped down on Jan. 1. The state of emergency allows other municipalities to lend their emergency services to Cosmopolis when necessary. It is set to terminate on Feb. 1 unless it is extended.
In a letter, Pauley gave his side of the dispute, which involved pay for death and injury protection, a Department of Health EMS license and various “budget and policy adjustments” he said were caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting loss of funding.
“The fire department didn’t go anywhere, our volunteers, as all volunteers and employees can do, decided to resign and put in their notice,” Pauley told KING 5 Wednesday. “There were disagreements and discussions and meetings for the last two years that kind of lead up to this,” he continued.
Dozens of community members made it clear Wednesday afternoon that they feel the mayor made the wrong decision at a rally Pauley himself attended.
The mayor adds that the city has worked to address some of the issues laid out in the firefighter's resignation letter and says the department will still take on anyone willing to volunteer.