Clearwater fire chief steps down from post, volunteer firefighters resign

CLEARWATER, Kan. The fire chief for the City of Clearwater stepped down from his post Tuesday night. The move followed an emergency meeting at City Hall.

Following Tuesday night's meeting, Clearwater city council members declined to comment on that matter, but eight volunteer firefighters made their voices heard, dropping letters of resignation and removing their "Clearwater Firefighter" shirts in front of the council.

Several community members say now former Clearwater Fire Chief Scott Cooper helped improve the department during his time with the city.

"This man has countless hours of training and intelligence in the field and has passed it on to many of us," says John Vanklei, one of the volunteer firefighters who resigned Tuesday night.

"This town, this city council could not get behind the department. We're volunteers. We give up our time and our freedom away from our friends and our families and our holidays to defend this community."

Cooper, hired in May, accepted a severance package and was released of his duties as chief Tuesday. Some feel Cooper's resignation was forced because of accusations of misconduct made on social media by one former Clearwater firefighter.

"I'm not going to say (Cooper) is a bad person. He's done a lot of good things, but he's also done a lot of bad things that has caused the morale of the department to drop," that former firefighter, Donald Schauf said.

Other community members say accusations against Cooper are false.

"I think that he has brought a level of experience to the department that we have not had in the community and I think that has been very good for the community and has allowed the department to progress," Clearwater resident Denise Lewis says.

With the resignations of Cooper and other firefighters in the city, Clearwater will now have to rely on outside communities for emergency response.

One volunteer firefighter who resigned Tuesday night says response times could be as long as 20 minutes.