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Fire chief terminated following DUI charge

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POSTED: November 7, 2013 11:16 a.m.
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Andy Burriss

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Richmond Hill’s acting fire chief has reportedly been let go just days after being arrested in Tattnall County for driving under the influence of prescription drugs.

Assistant Fire Chief Andy Burriss, who was serving as the department’s interim chief, was terminated Oct. 31 from the Richmond Hill Fire Department, City Manager Chris Lovell said. Lovell declined to comment further. 

But according to a Georgia State Patrol incident report, Burriss was arrested Oct. 26 during a traffic stop in Tattnall County and charged with DUI-drugs less safe and driving with expired tags.

The report states that Burriss was initially pulled over by Reidsville Police Lt. James Waters, who suspected Burriss was driving while impaired.

In the report, Trooper Richard Sikes said when he arrived on the scene, he spoke with Burriss and noted his license plate tag had been expired for 23 months.

Burriss responded that he “just hasn’t got it yet,” and that he “was going through a lot at the moment,” according to the report.

Sikes said he noticed Burriss’ speech was slow and slurred and that he was unsteady on his feet.

“I noticed his lips and mouth were very dry,” Sikes said in his report. “I asked him if had taken any medicine or was on any. He stated he was taking Somas and oxycodone.”

Soma, or carisoprodol, is a muscle relaxer, while oxycodone is a opioide pain killer.

After performing field sobriety tests, Sikes said, “it was obvious he was impaired to a point less safe for him to be operating a motor vehicle.”

Burriss was placed under arrested and consented to a blood test before being transported to the Tattnall County Jail for processing.

Burriss was serving as the interim fire chief in place of longtime fire chief Vernon Rushing, who was placed on paid administrative leave in June before retiring in September. 

Lovell said Michelle Meacham is currently heading the fire department, though he noted the city is hoping to have a new chief in place soon.

"We will have somone in pretty quickly," he said. "We're in the middle of looking for a fire chief ... we hope to hire someone in the next couple of months."

As to whether a new assistant chief would be hired, Lovell said, "We will probably let the new chief decide if that's needed."

 

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