Fire commissioner abruptly resigns in Orient

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Orient Fire District commissioner Scott Harris (left) sits next to former chairman Harold ‘Bud’ Griffith’s empty seat at Tuesday night’s board meeting. Mr. Griffith abruptly resigned from the board last month.

Less than a week after a newcomer was elected to its board of fire commissioners, the Orient Fire District has a new hole to fill.

The board’s chairman, Harold “Bud” Griffith, abruptly announced his resignation soon after the district’s regular meeting last month, during which he had disagreed with other members over the sale of a fire truck. The board voted to accept his resignation “with regret” at their December meeting Tuesday night.

Commissioner Scott Harris told the board he spoke with Mr. Griffith before the meeting and was told he still wished to resign.

Mr. Griffith submitted his letter of resignation a day before the petition deadline for candidates seeking to join the board.

“Simply put, I gave it as much time as I could,” Mr. Griffith said in a phone interview last week. He did not give a reason in his letter, district officials said.

The board has not yet determined who will be appointed to fill Mr. Griffith’s seat and is now seeking résumés from Orient residents to find a replacement for next year. Board vice chairman Linton Duell, who chose not to seek re-election, will also depart in January.

While Mr. Griffith says he resigned due to a lack of time to devote to the board, other commissioners and observers noted that his resignation comes in the wake of a board vote to sell a district fire engine — a decision Mr. Griffith opposed.

The used 1991 Seagrave engine was purchased from the Riverhead Fire Department but wasn’t being used by district firefighters, Mr. Harris said. The board voted to surplus the truck to the highest bidder, seeking a price between $25,000 and $40,000, according to minutes from the November meeting.

Mr. Griffith cast the lone dissenting vote.

“It was just at the point where if you start losing sleep over it, it’s not worth it,” Mr. Griffith said. “We all have our disagreements. I just felt at this time in my life, [it was best] not to keep arguing.”

On Tuesday, commissioner Richard Milligan said the board was “in the final throes of consummating this deal for that truck.” Money earned from the sale of the engine would go into the district’s fund for purchasing new trucks, according to the resolution.

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