Basalt’s fire chief was fired |

Basalt’s fire chief was fired

Former Basalt Fire Chief Steve Howard was fired from his position after he declined an opportunity to resign, according to Bob Guion, president of the Basalt and Rural Fire District board of directors.

Howard’s departure came after a board meeting earlier this month, but district officials wouldn’t clarify until yesterday whether it was a firing or resignation.

“He was given the opportunity to resign, but he chose not to,” said Guion. “The board felt a change of leadership and change of direction was appropriate at this time.”

Guion said the district is prohibited from releasing details of the split because it is a personnel matter and Howard is legally entitled to privacy. However, he stressed that the firing was “certainly not due to wrongdoing.”

Howard has declined to discuss the issue. His tenure featured the development of a new fire station in El Jebel, upgrades in the department’s equipment and purchases of several new fire engines and ambulances.

Guion indicated the district’s focus will shift away from the upgrading of equipment and facilities, which are in excellent shape. The district will now concentrate on day-to-day management – particularly efforts to “improve customer service and serve our community better,” he said.

Longtime volunteer firefighter and Deputy Fire Chief Scott Thompson was encouraged to apply for the top spot, said Guion. There are no other internal candidates and the board of directors hasn’t decided whether to search outside the district.

“Scott is a very logical choice and the top candidate to move into the position,” said Guion.

Thompson has been the acting fire chief since Howard’s departure.

The fire chief’s job will likely pay in the range of $60,000 to $70,000, said Guion. The board will check what the chiefs of other departments in the valley are paid.

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