Mayor: Fire Chief Needs to be Problem Solver

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Lexington Fire Chief Robert Hendricks wants more time to consider his possible resignation. The noon hour Tuesday marked the deadline set by Lexington Mayor Jim Gray for Hendricks to resign.

The mayor called for Hendricks to step down Monday afternoon, saying the chief lacks the leadership necessary for the job. Gray elaborated on his reasons Tuesday morning.

"Spending overtime when it's not budgeted at enormous amounts, not just one year but multiple years, that's not acceptable. So sooner or later, as leaders in the elected role like my role as mayor, it's time to make a decision and I've made that decision."

At 3 p.m. Tuesday, Hendricks is scheduled to present Urban County Council members with a status update of the fire department's budget, which is nearly $92,000 in the hole for overtime this year.

Hendricks' report [PDF pages 56-84] points to low staffing levels for the overtime problem. Gray says it's the chief's job to find solutions.

"This is about problem solving. It's about problem solving on a day-to-day basis and it's about problem solving strategically. Year to year, giving the department and its employees a vision about the future: where we should be going, why we're going there, how we're going to get there."

Hendricks, whose salary is around $148,000, retired from Lexington Fire in 1997 and later headed the Georgetown Fire Department. He returned to Lexington in 2003 under Mayor Teresa Isaac.