A South West shire president has been blackballed by his town’s volunteer fire brigade just months after he attempted to remove two long-serving firefighters from their senior shire roles. Capel Shire president Michael Southwell last week lost an appeal to overturn his rejected application to join the Gelorup Bush Fire Brigade after the group decided to turn down his request in January. In a letter obtained by the Bunbury Herald, Capel Shire acting chief executive Robert Stewart said the GBFB had denied it because of “animosity” between Cr Southwell, pictured, and “other parties affecting the operations on the fire ground” and his inability to “separate brigade issues with shire business”. It came after months of tension between the council and local firefighters, which was sparked after a failed proposal was put to the council to remove chief bushfire control officer Chris Scott from the shire-run Bushfire Advisory Committee. A motion was also introduced to remove Mr Scott’s brother Murray — who is a Capel Shire councillor and deputy chief fire control officer — from the same committee, which was later withdrawn. Hundreds turned out at a council meeting to support the siblings, who are both long-serving firefighters who have been involved in the committee for years. The two proposed motions came off the back of an inquiry into the October North Boyanup bushfire, where a volunteer was injured. But Cr Southwell told the Herald he did not fully understand the reasoning for his refusal. “It strikes me as very unusual and very strange that political reasons could be used to stop someone volunteering their services to help the community as a bushfire fighter,” he said. “I know I’m supposed to agree with decisions of council, but this one I just find very strange.” Councillors spent a significant amount of time discussing the issue at last Wednesday’s meeting, before the appeal was turned down by six votes to one. Before the vote, Cr Dave Clews said there was clearly an issue between Cr Southwell and the Gelorup brigade. “If the brigade wakes up tomorrow and feels they can’t trust and work with someone ... they’ve clearly got a problem,” he said. Cr Kaara Andrew said she found no issue with the committee’s reasoning and said brigades were often described as a brotherhood, with decisions riding on them having the full support of the captain. Cr Kieran Noonan, who was the only one to vote in favour of the appeal, said he accepted Cr Southwell had been a polarising figure in this debate, but encouraged the council to support his appeal. “We all need to get on,” he said. “This refusal is saying because you have been divisive we’re going to leave you out.” Cr Scott encouraged the council to back the brigade’s refusal, saying: “I wouldn’t like to see the Gelorup brigade disintegrate over this application.” Cr Southwell was not allowed to take part in the vote. There are five volunteer fire brigades within the local government area, which each report to the Capel Shire-run Bushfire Advisory Committee.