Response from Marion Township Rural Fire Dept.

by Staff on November 20, 2007 · 5 comments

in Local

In regards to the recent discussions about Blaize Edwards and the Marion Township Rural Fire Department, here is a response from Lt. Paul D. Gillespie:

This is being released to explain the situations surrounding Blaize Edwards.


The fact that Mr. Edwards is related to Mayor-Elect Terrell was not a factor at any point and time with the fire department. The rumors concerning Lehigh and Mr. Terrell were dismissed as what they truly were, mere rumors. Everybody knew from day 1 who Mr. Edwards was, and who he is related to. There was never a “Political agenda” to try to force a fire department merger with Marion Township Fire Dept. Inc, and the Mitchell Volunteer Fire Department. If these departments merge at anytime it will be up to the Mayor of Mitchell, the Marion Twp. Fire Board, the Mitchell city council, and the Chief and Firefighters of both departments. I’m confident that whatever happens with the talks of a merger that the best interests of the citizens both departments have sworn to protect will be the main issue. Both departments, merged or unmerged, will continue to do what we have been doing. Putting ourselves in harms way to protect others. Further more, at no time has Chief Jim Zeeks Contacted Mayor-Elect Danny Terrell to push the idea of a merger between the two departments.


Before Mr. Edwards placed an application with the Marion Twp. Rural Fire Department he had filmed a video of a car fire at 2nd and Grissom. Some people took exception to this video, and thought that it was illegal for him to film and place it on the internet. There is nothing “Illegal” about it. However, once Mr. Edwards was appointed to the department we started to receive complaints about the video. These complaints were not brought to the Chief of the department by a citizen. They were brought to the Chief by one of the Marion Twp. Board Members who had received the complaint from one of his employees. Many questions came up at that time concerning Mr. Edwards. Chief Zeeks was upset about this person making the complaints because he felt they were biased and made with malice intent. The person complaining will remain unnamed. The “Questions” will also not be discussed by any member of the department, they are considered confidential and a personal matter between the department and Mr. Edwards. Chief Zeeks asked Mr. Edwards to remove the video from You Tube because of the hard feelings it was causing, and requested that he not film any of the Mitchell Volunteer Fire Departments fires and place them on You Tube while he was a member of the Marion Twp. Fire Dept. Mr. Edwards agreed. The video of the Legion fire also caused several harsh comments to be made and posted on You Tube. This is what Tammy Milligan had come to the officers meeting to complain about, as she stated in her post on 11/17/2007 at 5:18 pm titled: “I’ve really had enough”. To reply to Ms. Milligan’s post, the Marion Twp Fire Dept. has considered many times having someone to film our fires to be used as a training tool for all members of our department. To use this tool as a ‘Critique” of how we operate, and how we could deliver better service to our area. The fact that you stated “it just means that Mitchell Volunteer Firefighters hold up their standards of supporting the other departments NOT trying to bash them.” Could be taken a number of ways. Please, if you have any complaints bring them to Chief Zeeks or any of the officers of Marion Twp. Fire Department and voice them. We will be happy to discuss them in private. However, we will not engage in a battle of words on a public forum. Thank you.


Mr. Edwards was not “Voted off” the department, nor was he “Forced to resign”. All junior firefighters must be sponsored by a firefighter or officer of the Marion Twp. Fire Department in order to gain membership. This is done so that the probationary firefighter will have a mentor with years of experience to help them along. The probationary year is there for the “Probie” firefighters to prove themselves to the department, not for the department to decide if they want them or not. I was Mr. Edwards’s sponsor. I had told Mr. Edwards of things he needed to change and things he needed to do to help him along. Most of them, he had done. Some issues on emergency scenes had come up, and they to will not be discussed. It is a private matter between Mr. Edwards and the department. The fact that he filmed the legion fire and posted it on You Tube, after being asked not to because of the harsh feelings it could cause between the two departments, was not a deciding factor. Mr. Edwards was going to have to go in front of the “Peer committee” (a group of fire department members made up of 1 Assistant Chief, 1 Captain, 1 Lieutenant, and 4 firefighters that are there to evaluate the actions of other fire department members, and to resolve differences between members). I informed Mr. Edwards of this, and stated that “it didn’t look good”. If he wanted to go in front of the Peer committee I would stand right there with him, or if he wanted to resign I would support that too. I let him know that if he were to resign, that it would look better on him to be able to say “I resigned” rather than “I was voted off” if he decided to try to join another fire department. Mr. Edwards choice was to resign. I have known Mr. Edwards since he was 1 year old. I joined the fire service when he was 5 years old. He has wanted to join a fire department ever since. His mother has told me several times “He wants to do whatever it is that you are doing”. I am very proud of this fact, and honored that he has looked at me as a “Big Brother” over the years. I hope that this mess has not caused that relationship to change, although I know it more than likely has.


If you have evidence of something like that, I suggest you take it to the authorities and let them handle it. Other than that, it is mere rumor. Rumor: Unverified information of uncertain origin usually spread by word of mouth : Hearsay. A rumor can destroy someone and a career based on just hearsay. I would find it unfortunate if this were to happen to Mr. Edwards without any verified information. This will be the only comment posted by the Marion Township Rural Fire Department regarding this and all other matters pertaining to Mr. Edwards.

Lt. Paul D. Gillespie Approved By: Chief Jim Zeeks
Marion Twp. Rural Fire Dept. Inc.

Thank you, Lieutenant Gillespie and Chief Zeeks, for taking the time to respond publicly and dispel some of the rumors.

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