City Manager Deborah Ballí asked City Council members to look at a letter of resignation from Fire Marshal James P. Barrie during the meeting.
That came after three business owners complained again about Barrie’s fire inspections.
One woman, who owns a beauty shop, said she was unable to get to her shop for the inspection because of a medical situation. But Barrie called her at home, told her he was there to inspect her business and she needed to be there.
Finally, the woman said, she realized why Barrie wanted him at her shop and asked, “Oh, you need money?”
She told the council that if Barrie had informed her earlier of the fee for the inspection she could have left a check for him.
She said the inspection cost her $75.
Two other business owners expressed concerns over the inspections saying they felt like they were being extorted when Barrie made the inspections and then collected his fee.
“I realized ahead of time that being the new fire marshal was going to be challenging for several reasons,” Barrie said in his letter of resignation. “The position had never been performed to the new state standards, local ordinance nor had it been performed evenly across the board.”
Ballí reminded the council that Barrie’s official resignation date would be Aug. 31. She said she believed that was so he could conduct investigations into any suspicious fires that might happen between now and then.
But when it came time for a motion, Councilman David Carabajal said he would like to move that the city accept Barrie’s resignation immediately.
Other council members, including Mayor Pro Tem Mike Scotten, also wanted the resignation to be immediate. But City Attorney Frank Warner said that would not be possible because the agenda item was worded in such a way that the council had only one option, to accept the resignation as it was until another agenda could be prepared with different wording.
At that point council members asked for the resignation question to be on its next agenda, for the July 24 meeting, so they could take immediate action on it.
“It is with great sadness I am resigning from the position as fire marshal,” Barrie told this newspaper Tuesday afternoon.
“This is a multi-part issue that has separate factors for city and county. The main reasoning is the complete lack of support from both governmental entities with regard to my appointed position.
Barrie said he has a side business that he will be working on to support his family.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.