By Abby Reed
EUNICE, N.M. - It's been almost nine months since Eunice Fire Chief Ron Grogan was fired, amidst allegations of burglary, conspiracy and tampering with evidence. Police say Grogan and several other firefighters stole a radar detector from a crash scene. Those charges were eventually dismissed when prosecutors said they didn't have enough evidence.
"It hurt everyone's reputation and we have to overcome that," Captain Ronnie Savell, with the Eunice Fire Department, said. "While our reputation may have suffered as a result of that, it was no less hurtful for those of us in Eunice, as it was in Hobbs or Lovington and everywhere else in the state where it was known."
The department has since hired a new chief who has ambitions to make the department better and more community oriented.
"I think we've made a lot of progress," Chief Richard Cummins, said. "I've always worked in a fully paid fire department. This is my first experience with volunteers. I am genuinely amazed at how dedicated they are. I have a lot of respect for them."
"Attitude is definitely better, people are happier coming to work. Definitely higher morale now," Savell said.
The department has recently begun offering public fire education and fire day camps for kids. They also hope to work toward an in-house fire inspection program. There's also a huge emphasis in firefighter and EMT continuing education.
"The tension and that stress is gone. It's a comfortable work environment where we're free to excel and do what we need to do to help the community," Savell said.