County Acknowledges ‘Hiccups’ at Hawthorne Fire Department


After the appointment of Interim Fire Chief Vern Watson, turmoil seems to be brewing at the Mineral County Fire House.

According to Erin Greenfield, wife of former Assistant Volunteer Fire Chief Adam Greenfield, who states that the firehouse is out of date and out of compliance.

At the April 19 board of county commissioners meeting, former Fire Chief T.C. Knight met with the commissioners to confirm the appointment of officers for the Mineral County Fire Department per Mineral County Code 2.32.060.

At that meeting, Knight and Adam were present to introduce the “One Team, One Dream” motto for the county fire departments, which Knight consolidated all departments into one.

Knight stated that Greenfield would be “instrumental in helping align county fire departments.”

At that meeting, Commissioner Jerrie Tipton reminded Knight and Adam that it is up to them to choose the proper staffing for the fire department.

The commissioners acknowledged the appointment of Adam to the fire department as assistant fire chief of Mineral County.

With claims of missing money and patient fraud, Erin spoke with the Independent-News and advised them of volunteer fire department money missing which was set aside for clothing allowance for both staff and volunteers; cheating on exams and incorrect patient contact.

Calls were placed to the State of Nevada EMS Office in Elko where complaints were filed regarding Mineral County Fire Department.

When confronted by the accusations presented by Erin, Mineral County District Attorney Sean Rowe and County Commissioner Garth Price sat down with the Independent-News and spoke about losing former Chief Knight, appointing an interim Chief Watson and the hiring of new Chief Chris Lawrence (the beginning of 2018).

Both Rowe and Price answered each question presented by the Independent-News.

The following is a statement from Mineral County: “The Mineral County Board of Commissioners is committed to continuing and improving fire service for each of our communities in the county. We appointed Vern Watson as interim Fire Department Chief following the resignation of Chief Knight. During the transition, there have been hiccups: the new chief was notified by the state of a licensure issue with one of the existing personnel and of an inspection needed on a newly acquired ambulance. The department has been working with the state to ensure the fire department is compliant with all laws and regulations.”

Adam asked to be placed on the county commissioner agenda for Nov. 15 to discuss a termination letter he received from Chief Watson. His requested agenda item is as follows, “The termination letter sent by Vern Watson, Interim Fire Chief, to Adam Greenfield, Mineral County Assistant Fire Chief.”

His agenda explanation description is: “On Nov. 2, 2017, I was handed the attached termination letter by Vern Watson. However, as I was appointed by the Mineral County Commissioners, this needs to go before the commissioners.”

In researching the Mineral County Code, Chapter 2.32 COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT, Code 2.32.040 states, “The chief shall be held accountable to the board only, and shall make written and verbal reports thereto as the board may require. All other department and company officers shall be accountable to the chief only.”

Mineral County’s statement concludes, “Chief Watson has hired new personnel and brought in additional volunteers to staff the Department. Further, the Fire Department has been conducting a review of all operations, assessing firefighting apparatuses, and working to ensure that each community has the personnel and resources needed to protect our homes and businesses. The Board understands that this takes time, but we are committed to this process because we are committed to Department’s county-wide mission. We invite the public to attend our meetings to hear about the Department’s work to serve the community.”

At this time, Adam is no longer the volunteer assistant fire chief.

A call to the State of Nevada EMS Office in Elko was not returned.

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  1. Christine Smith says:

    This article is so misleading to the public as there are no “hiccups”, rather a serious breakdown and threat to public safety. Over the last year, the fire department has lost a fire chief, assistant fire chief and numerous other paid staff members. Why do you think the fire chief abandoned the department, because the Board of Commissioners were to difficult to deal with and would not let him manage the department.
    Last on, an experienced firefighter came forward and explained why he left the MVFD with a long list of serious issues within the department. The Mineral County Fire Department is seriously broken, mismanaged and failing. Every time someone tries to fix it, they get slapped down by the county board. The sad part is, someone is going to have to die and the state will have to come in and force fix the severely broken department. So now the residents are sitting ducks and we have to wait for something major to happen before the beyond broken department is fixed.
    Making the excuse of “hiccups” is simple a cover up and its too bad the residents and taxpayer are buying it.

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