Another change-up in Port Arthur Fire Department leadership, mayor confirms

Published 9:31 am Tuesday, May 14, 2024

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Another change-up has occurred within the leadership of the Port Arthur Fire Department in the near three weeks since the termination of Chief Greg Benson.

Interim Acting Fire Chief Robert Havens has stepped down due to health reasons, leading City Manager Ron Burton to appoint Captain Antonio Mitchell in that position, Mayor Thurman Bartie said.

Benson, who was terminated by Burton April 25, remains an employee of the city.

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Bartie said Benson never signed the separation letter terminating him from the chief’s position.

City Council was set to discuss Benson’s termination during the executive session May 7, but since Benson was scheduled to speak at the regular session, council opted to table the issue, Bartie said.

“Technically, from a legal standpoint, he is still an employee,” Bartie said.


Benson was hired in 2021 for the fire chief’s position and on April 25, 2024, City Manager Ron Burton informed him of his termination.

Benson said he asked Burton why he was being terminated and was told Burton was not happy with the direction the department was going.

When Benson pushed for specifics he was not given one, Benson previously told Port Arthur Newsmedia.

Bartie, who was out of town at the time, said he was aware of the situation and believes the termination stems from issues between Benson and the command staff with the fire department.

Robert Havens previously served as interim chief when Chief Larry Richard retired in January 2021. Havens was also one of three finalists for the fire chief’s position.