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Chesapeake, Ohio, fire chief resigns after gun ban

Frank Meehling II says he has resigned as fire chief for the Chesapeake Union Township Volunteer Fire Department after a gun ban. (WCHS/WVAH)

A ban on guns for members of the Chesapeake Union Township Volunteer Fire Department has led to the resignation of the fire chief.

Eyewitness News reached out to former fire chief Frank Meehling II, who said if he doesn't feel safe out in the field he doesn't need to be there.

"A human life is priceless; you can't put a price on someone's life," Meehling said.

Meehling has been a firefighter for more than 30 years and has been chief for the past two years. After Mayor Tom Templeton and council members passed a new ban against carrying guns for those on the department, Meehling said he needed to step down.

"It isn't like it was 20-30 years ago, you know," he said. "Things have changed. The drug epidemic has gone completely wild, and you know you just don't know what you're rolling up on."

The department is equipped with Narcan kits and sometimes beats local police to the scene when responding to hostile calls, he said.

"If there's a 10-15 ETA before law enforcement gets there, there's a lot of things that could happen in that time," Meehling said.

Meehling said members of the council and trustees reported the council's insurance bill would rise $2,500 to allow firefighters to carry guns, which they say they can't afford.

"$2,500 is a drop in the hat for somebody's life," Meehling said.

Assistant Fire Chief Joey McMaster will now serve as interim fire chief. McMaster said they will follow the ban but agrees with Meehling that their lives matter, too.

"We feel like it's not the right thing to do, but we're going to continue to do our job, respond," McMaster said. "We're just asking for alternative measures on how to handle these calls."

McMaster said he hopes the council can come up with a new solution soon.

"We just feel like we want a resolution for our safety because we feel that we are important and request that our safety be a priority," McMaster said.

Meehling said he won't turn his back on his department and will help until a smooth transition is made.

"I will stay on the fire department for a short time to help the guys that has done nothing wrong," Meehling said.

Eyewitness News reached out to Mayor Tom Templeton for comment, but has not received a response.

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