N.C. Chief Resigns with No Explaination


Mount Airy Fire Chief Chip Osborne submitted his resignation Tuesday afternoon during a meeting with the interim city manager, who would not address rumors that Osborne had been given a choice of resigning or being fired.

No comment, Barbara Jones, the interim city manager, said when asked to describe the exact circumstances under which Osborne left the municipal payroll.

Chief Osborne has resigned his position of fire chief, Jones said late Tuesday afternoon. His resignation was accepted as of today. The members of the fire department, who include about 20 full-time and 17 part-time personnel, were notified about the move later Tuesday afternoon, Jones said.

Osborne, 47, had been on the job for less than five months after he was hired by then-City Manager Don Brookshire, who resigned himself in early January. Brookshire had appointed Osborne as fire chief without input from the city board of commissioners, which he was empowered to do under Mount Airys charter that allows the manager to hire and dismiss department heads.

The board also was not directly involved in the circumstances leading to Osbornes departure, according to Todd Harris, a city commissioner who serves on its Personnel Committee.

She (Jones) just advised the board that there were issues with the direction in which the department was headed, Harris said. The Personnel Committee wasnt involved in this process at all. However, The Mount Airy News learned that the board had discussed Osbornes situation during at least one closed session after a recent regular meeting.

Jones also would not comment on the job performance of Osborne, who began work on Nov. 16 and was still under a six-month probationary period. This was a resignation and I cant really comment on that, the acting city manager said, and we wish Chip well in his future endeavors.

Osborne, a native of Guilford County, took over as fire chief after the retirement of Benny Brannock, a fourth-generation member of the Mount Airy Fire Department who was employed there for nearly 30 years. Brannock was chief for seven years.

Before coming to Mount Airy, Osborne had been employed by the N.C. Department of Community Colleges, which he joined in 1994. He served as regional fire and rescue director for the Central Piedmont, one of eight regions set up in the state to provide assistance in establishing training programs among 58 community colleges offering fire and rescue instruction.

Jones said efforts are under way to secure a new fire chief as soon as possible.

What well do is advertise the position both internal and external and accept applications and move forward in making the decision.

Osborne could not be reached for comment about the resignation.

This article appeared in Wednesday's edition of the Mount Airy News.

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