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Snowmass Fire looking for new chief

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

The Snowmass-Wildcat Fire Protection District has begun its search for a new chief.

The district posted a job announcement, advertising a starting salary of $113,836, over the weekend. Chief Steven Sowles’ resignation, which he submitted last month, takes effect Saturday.

The job has been posted with the Colorado State Fire Chiefs Association, International Fire Chiefs Association, Colorado Municipal League, Colorado State Fire Marshals Association and Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, according to Deputy Chief John Mele, who will act as interim chief while the district conducts its search.

The announcement describes the recreation and entertainment opportunities in the Roaring Fork Valley and the work environment at the district. The district has an operating budget of $2.9 million this year and 20 full-time staff members, according to the description. Part-time reserve residents and on-call firefighter/emergency medical technicians also support the staff in serving the 21-square-mile jurisdiction.

Benefits include optional housing in a district-owned two-bedroom unit in Meadow Ranch.

The description of the environment also refers to a deputy chief of operations and training on staff, a position the board has discussed adding but has not scheduled to begin advertising, according to Mele. In March, Sowles told the Snowmass Sun that he wanted to add a deputy who could eventually be promoted to chief.

“The firefighters aren’t going to leapfrog to my position,” Sowles said then. “Fire departments like to hire the chief from within.”

Mele is not interested in remaining chief, according to board President Bill Boineau.

The deadline to apply is Sept. 18; however, the announcement states that the position will remain open until filled.

“We’re not going to rush into it, but we are going to diligently try to find someone that can fill this position,” Boineau said last week.

Sowles was the subject of two grievances filed with the board by firefighters this year. Board member Tom Dunlop said after the June meeting that the group “reluctantly accepted his resignation.”

The board passed a resolution of appreciation for Sowles at its meeting July 23.


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