Cleveland fire dept. board calls for third party investigation following mass resignations

Published 12:10 am Saturday, May 11, 2024

CLEVELAND — A Facebook post in the West Rowan News, Events and Fun page last weekend sparked concerns about the Cleveland Community Volunteer Fire Department’s capacity to fulfill its daily operational requirements. 

The post stated that 15 firefighters tendered their resignations from the fire department, citing Chief Kenny Payne’s administration as the reason. While the post was anonymous, Cleveland Community Volunteer Fire Department Board President Mike Eller confirmed that roughly a dozen firefighters of various employment statuses had resigned. 

CCVFD does not employ anyone full-time; it consists of part-time and volunteer personnel. 

Since the original post was published anonymously and attempts to speak with the author were unsuccessful, the Salisbury Post will not be reproducing the allegations levied against the department. Additionally, repeated attempts to contact Payne were not returned. 

A statement from the Cleveland Community Volunteer Fire Department (CCVFD) Board of Directors indicated the members had been “made aware of a social media article that makes serious allegations against” the department.

“The board takes these allegations seriously and is taking the necessary steps to have an independent party investigate each of them fully,” the statement continued. “The No. 1 priority of CCVFD and the board is to serve the citizens of our community.”

The fire department services the Cleveland area but does not have any official affiliation with the town. It is part of the county-wide fire service provider. Rowan County Fire Division Chief Deb Horne indicated earlier this week that there were not any calls in the fire department’s coverage area that had not been answered and that emergencies were still being responded to without disruption.

The board will have a meeting on May 20 at 7 p.m. in Station 45, located at 11170 Hwy. 70/Statesville Blvd., Cleveland.