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Gregory Volunteer Fire Chief shocked after COVID-related ouster

'I was shocked' after sudden removal from position,
Gregory VFD Chief
Posted at 4:52 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 20:00:47-04

GREGORY, Texas — Jesus Garza Jr., the former chief of the Gregory Volunteer Fire Department has been asked to step down as chief.

The move came after Garza contracted COVID-19 in January with the virus permanently scarring his lungs.

Despite his health issues, the city let him remain as chief. Garza has been going out on calls since returning to duty in April.

Garza was sent an email last week from the Gregory city secretary asking him to step down as chief and become fire department chaplain.

“I was shocked, I didn’t even know how to respond," Garza said. "I waited a couple hours to respond."

When Garza asked for a meeting to discuss his removal, he was told to attend the city council meeting on Monday where he was learned of a shocking surprise.

The city council unanimously voted for Garza to be completely removed from the volunteer fire department.

“They said there was a city ordinance that said firefighters were supposed to be 100% working capacity." Garza said. "And I'm at 50% with my lungs."

In April, Garza's doctors cleared him to perform chief duties like calling the shots on the scene of a fire as long as he didn’t enter smoke-filled buildings.

Garza has been following those edicts and says that other firefighters have supported him.

“They were fine, they said that that would be no problem with me not going inside the fire or anything," Garza said. "They said that I’m the chief so I shouldn’t have to go inside and fight fires.

"That I would be calling the shots from outside and once the dangers are gone… the smoke’s gone… I’d be able to go in and help with the investigation if needed.”

The mayor of Gregory refused to comment on the removal.

Garza says he wants the city council to change the ordinance so he can remain as chief.