Steamboat fire chief pursuing another job in Montana

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Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Ron Lindroth, left, salutes an American flag Sept. 11, 2011, during an event at the Routt County Courthouse commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Lindroth is a finalist for a fire chief position with the Central Valley Fire District in Belgrade, Mont.

— Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Ron Lindroth is a finalist for the same position with the Central Valley Fire District in Belgrade, Mont.

According to a story posted Thursday night at www.nbcmontana.com, Lindroth and the three other finalists for the position met with members of the Belgrade community earlier in the evening.

“I’m shocked,” said Kathy Connell, president of the rural Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District’s board of directors. “I thought he brought a level of professionalism to our fire department that we applauded, with new ideas, but I’m sorry to hear about that. I’m very sorry to hear about that.”

A call Friday to Lindroth’s cellphone wasn’t immediately returned.

Lindroth became Steamboat’s fire chief in November 2009 after City Manager Jon Roberts divided the city’s public safety department, which separated fire and emergency services from police. At the time, public safety director JD Hays became police chief.

Previously, Lindroth was an officer with the Poudre Fire Authority in Fort Collins. He was hired after a nationwide search that included 55 candidates.

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue provides services in the city limits and to the rural fire district, which surrounds the city. Lindroth reports to the district’s board of directors and the city.

The City Council discussed fire-related issues for nearly three hours Tuesday. The discussion included a presentation from a consultant about the city’s fire and emergency services, including the dual governance issue.

City Council members and the district board members were discussing consolidation last year when talks stalled. City Council members said Tuesday that since receiving the consultant’s report, they wanted to resume those talks. Council members asked Lindroth and the district board to first prepare responses to the report that would be presented Feb. 7.

Roberts said he wasn’t surprised to hear Lindroth was pursuing other opportunities. He added that having to report to two bosses was a difficult position for any manager.

“I’ve told Ron he’s the guy I hired; I have total confidence in him as fire chief,” Roberts said. “I’m optimistic we’ll be able to resolve our governance issues with the district. It sounds like if he’s looking elsewhere, he’s getting impatient. It’s understandable.”

According to the www.nbcmontana.com story, Lindroth and the other candidates had formal interviews Friday. It stated that the Central Valley Fire District would announce its new chief Tuesday.

Connell said losing Lindroth would illustrate why the city and district need to come together to resolve the governance issue.

“That will be a loss for the department, but we really do have great staff under him,” Connell said. “(EMS Battalion Chief) Mel Stewart is a fantastic professional. (Fire Marshal) Jay Muhme has been with us forever. We will move on if he takes the job.”

To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

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