Consultants to aid in fire chief search

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Trustees unanimously voted Tuesday to bring in consultants to help them revamp the district's fire chief position.

Trustees agreed that the area needs a fire chief to work longer hours for more money but weren't sure how to hire one.

Previously Fire Chief Chuck Wisecup approached the board about possibly hiring him for the position. He is paid for 20 hours a month to head up the department. However, as of Sept. 1, Wisecup said he logged about 520 hours for fire responsibilities in 2000.

Furthermore, with the potential development in the Stagecoach area, as well as other parts of south Routt that are under the jurisdiction of the fire district, Wisecup said more time will have to be dedicated to the job.

Plus, a long-range capital improvement plan for fire equipment is needed for the district, the fire chief said.

Board President Jerry Greenwood agreed the position would be needed someday.

"Not having a part-time paid position means that some things fall through the cracks," he said.

As well as an increase in calls this summer, paperwork has increased and there has been a need for more training sessions, Greenwood said. Also, there could be grants available that the district is missing out on because it doesn't have a paid person to look for them, he added.

Plus, giving some sort of financial relief for volunteers will be needed sooner or later in Oak Creek, Greenwood said.

"They get burned out," he said. "If it wasn't for the love of the job, it wouldn't get done."

But money to pay for the volunteers needs to be found, Greenwood said. The part-time fire chief job was proposed to pay $2,000 a month and the board would have to find those funds.

The Wildland Fire Council is trying to tackle the volunteering issues in the county, Greenwood said. There is a possibility funds could be dispersed from the county to local fire districts to help pay volunteers in the future. If that happens, it could go toward paying for a part-time fire chief in Oak Creek, Greenwood said.

Before the meeting, board member Steve Jones said the position might be needed but the board should talk about it in more detail.

"I don't think we should be dealing with a person and a position at the same time," Jones said.

Though Wisecup could be the man for the job, Jones wanted to board to decide on the need for the position and then open it up for applicants.

Normally, the board would identify the need for the position and then advertise for applicants, Greenwood said.

Wisecup said he was mainly looking for input from the board on the possibility of adding the position.

He also would need direction from the Oak Creek Board of Trustees on the matter.

If Wisecup were to be appointed to the position, it would mean a readjustment of his responsibilities as the director of public works for Oak Creek.

The initial plan would be to move Wisecup to part time with the town, dedicating most of his workday to the water and waste-water systems, Wisecup said.

That move would go along with a recent recommendation to the town from the Colorado State Health Department that someone is needed to spend more time on the water infrastructure, he added.

Wisecup said he would help out on other projects in the town if he is needed.

The day-to-day responsibilities of the director of public works would be given to Tom Holiday, the public works department's assistant foreman, who has worked for the town for seven years.

The move would benefit the town and the district, Wisecup said.

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