All firefighters quit WA fire department in protest of mayor


The entire Cosmopolis Volunteer Fire Association in Washington resigned on Jan. 1, 2022, after releasing a statement criticizing Mayor Kyle Pauley and the city’s response to not paying for medical fees, retirement funds or repairs to their firetruck.

Cosmopolis Volunteer Fire Association

An entire fire department in Washington resigned at the beginning of the year after citing numerous complaints toward their city’s mayor.

The 12 members of the Cosmopolis Volunteer Fire Association will no longer serve the Cosmopolis community after they put in their resignations starting Jan. 1, according to a statement posted on Facebook.

The volunteer fire department served the small city of more than 1,600 people for 127 years. It’s about 50 miles west of Olympia.

But conflict with Mayor Kyle Pauley will end the group’s more than century-long protection of the community.

The group outlined a list of issues it’s accusing the city of, including:

Leaving the firefighters without death and injury protection.

Failing to repair a firetruck promptly.

Not paying for a volunteer’s medical bill.

Denying requests for material orders to recruit and retain an already stretched-thin team.

“Your firefighters in no way want to leave this community unprotected, we are citizens ourselves with families and homes that need emergency medical and fire protection if those (unforeseen) circumstances arise, however we cannot protect you while keeping ourselves safe in the current state Mayor Pauley and his colleagues have created,” the department wrote in a news release on Dec. 23.

In response to the mass resignation, Pauley issued a month-long emergency declaration on Jan. 1.

Pauley also released a statement calling the department’s complaints “inaccurate and libelous.” He explained the city’s failure to pay for death and injury protection was a result of paperwork not being given to City Hall. He said the issue was “remedied” after it was “brought forward.”

And he cited the COVID-19 pandemic for the loss in funding, which caused budget cuts to departments across the city, including the fire department. He said these cuts had an impact on printing recruitment materials.

He said the fire department’s budget has been restored to a “pre-pandemic level.”

Pauley said any volunteer can return to the department if they would like to. In the meantime, the mayor is working with other local departments to protect the Cosmopolis community.

Helena Wegner is a McClatchy National Real-Time Reporter covering the state of Washington and the western region. She’s a journalism graduate from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She’s based in Phoenix.

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