The members of the Jerome Volunteer Fire Department voted 13-4 during their annual meeting to replace Terry Molloy as fire chief.
Rusty Blair, who was assistant chief, was voted in as chief, and Brandon Nargessi was elected as the new assistant chief.
A special town council meeting was scheduled for May 15 for the council to confirm, or not, Blair as chief. In Jerome, the fire chief is elected by the members of the department but must be approved by the council.
The chief is under the supervision of the town manager.
"They voted me out," Molloy said Thursday morning. "I retired from the department entirely."
The change of department leadership has sparked some speculation that recent legal battles between local businesses and the department over fire code violations were behind Molloy's ouster. But Town Manager Brenda Man-Fletcher said she didn't really think that was part of the department's decision.
Former Fire Chief David Hall agreed. "I don't think that was it," he said. "It wasn't much of a factor."
Hall said that on all of the fire prevention issues, Molloy was in the right.
Hall said it was other issues, mostly that the department members wanted new leadership.
"It's an annual election of the chief," Hall said. "It's a democracy. It was more his leadership style than anything."
Hall, who was fire chief for 20 of the 30 years he served on the Jerome Fire Department, said Molloy served under him as a captain.
"I supported Terry," Hall said. "I thought he was doing a good job."
There is no animosity toward Molloy, according to Hall. "There's no hard feelings toward Terry." In fact, Hall said he thinks the members will plan some kind of retirement event for Molloy.
"It wasn't that they didn't have confidence in Terry," Hall said. He said Molloy might have been a little autocratic in his leadership style.
"It's an old-time volunteer department."