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Nolanville firefighters fired after voicing concerns to 25 News

Posted at 6:01 PM, Oct 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-13 00:17:29-04

UPDATE 08:58 P.M. — Two Nolanville firefighters say they're out of the job tonight after talking with 25 News about ongoing issues within their department.

Lt. Drew Cizek and Benjamin Gullet, both volunteer firefighters with Central Bell County Fire & Rescue, said they were fired during a meeting tonight in Nolanville.

Both said the department's board claimed the pair were talking on behalf of the volunteer force during their interview with 25 News about problems with the city's police chief.

Cizek and Gullet said they were talking on their own behalf.

Michael Hatton, Nolanville's police chief, also serves as board president of Central Bell County Fire & Rescue.

25 News reached out to Hatton for comment on tonight's firings, but he has yet to respond to our request.

Central Bell County Fire & Rescue was founded back in 1961 and says it's the "busiest all volunteer department in the county," receiving 1700 calls for service last year.

NOLANVILLE, Texas — Central Bell County Fire and Rescue is a volunteer fire department located in the city of Nolanville, and for the past few months, Nolanville’s police chief has been its acting president.

Now, several Central Bell firefighters are doing what they can to unseat him.

”There comes a point in time as a leader where you say enough is enough,” said Drew Cizek, lieutenant at Central Bell County Fire and Rescue. “We’re tired of the rigmarole and we need to make a change. We need to make a better change.”

Central Bell firefighters are accusing Chief Michael Hatton of abusing his power and creating a hostile environment.

It's something Chief Hatton says is not true.

”I am doing my job and I am making them be responsible for their job, and they don’t like that,” said Chief Hatton.

Hatton does agree that things have gotten aggressive during their monthly meeting but says the hostility goes both ways.

”Oh, it’s definitely coming both ways,” said Hatton. “Have I ever gotten off suit? Probably. Have I ever cussed? No. Have I ever kept everything short? Yes, because there is no use in us arguing inside."

Firefighters say they have attempted to vote Hatton out and filed multiple petitions that have led nowhere.

”It’s fallen on deaf ears,” said Benjamin Gullett, a probationary firefighter at Central Bell County Fire and Rescue. “It’s gotten completely dismissed and disregarded, and it’s at a metaphorical breaking point now.”

They say all they are looking for is accountability and change.

”It seems like there is no accountability above certain levels,” said Gullett. “So, we just hope there is some level of accountability, and that change comes with that on any level and in a positive direction.”

Hatton says he was tasked with being the board president until an audit of the fire station is completed and plans to step down as soon as it is done; which could be in the next couple of weeks.