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Mulberry fire chief turns in resignation

Two top members of the Mulberry Fire Department resigned at the end of May.

Mulberry Mayor Gary Baxter received letters of resignation May 24 from Tim Oldham and Steve Steinsiek. Oldham was the fire chief for the department, and Steinsiek was the assistant fire chief.

Oldham had been with the department for 14 years, and served six of those as chief.

Baxter does not know of any incidents or problems that would cause the two to leave, he said. The only reason given was in Oldham’s letter, which states that he felt it was time to move on to new things, Baxter said.

“I respect people’s reasonings,” Baxter said. “If [Oldham] says it’s time for a change in his life, I always respect what people’s personal decisions are.”

Baxter has not spoken with Oldham or Steinsiek since he received their resignation letters, he said.

City officials plan to start the formal application process to hire a new chief to put in place at the first of the year, Baxter said. In the mean time, they are in the process of searching for an interim chief to serve out the rest of the year with the department, he said.

Two first responders, Vernon and Linda DeWater, also resigned. Baxter said the two told him they had been considering retirement since the first of the year and now just seemed the natural time to go.

In the two weeks since the resignation of the chief and assistant chief, Baxter said he has been “closely monitoring” the performance of the nine remaining department members, and called them “proficient.”

Fire captains Dakota Perceful and Lance Archer are temporarily heading up the department, he said.

“I think our community can feel good that we have good fire protection and first responders to an emergency,” Baxter said.

Mulberry currently has an ISO rating of 3 inside the city, and 5 in the surrounding areas also covered by the department, he said.

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