In his first interview with The Union in a nearly a year, former Fire Chief Tim Fike said the fire district he once helmed for more than a decade needs to end the acrimony and focus on moving forward.
“Eventually, all the mud-slinging needs to stop and everyone needs to focus on the mission,” Fike said.
The former chief said it was painful to watch the department he helped build become wracked with bitter division.
“The whole thing is counter-productive and casts a negative light on the district as a whole,” Fike said. “If I’m the bad guy in all of this, so what? They need to fix things and move on. That’s what’s important.
“All this distraction could get someone injured and that would be the worst thing,” Fike said.
The district has sought to get back on track by hiring former California Fire Marshal Ron Coleman, who presently operates an Elk Grove-based consulting business, to locate a permanent replacement for Fike. Coleman is slated to provide the Consolidated Fire board of directors with an update on the search for a new chief, along with the results from his comprehensive operational audit during tonight’s meeting.
Last month, Director Dave Hanson said April 15 was the established deadline for people to apply for the chief position.
The agenda also features a closed session in which the directors will consult with legal counsel Jim Curtis regarding “significant exposure to litigation against the local agency concerning employee issues,” according to the agenda.
Also on the agenda is an item relating to a 2008 training incident involving Wyatt Howell and another unidentified employee.
Howell was injured during the incident as he attempted to save a fellow firefighter when a floor collapsed underneath him. Howell said the district has repeatedly failed to recognize his injury and the lingering psychological effects associated with the incident.
During the March meeting, Howell and his wife, Michelle Howell, tried to provide public comment about the incident but were repeatedly silenced by the board members.
The board is also slated to discuss sensitivity training, stemming from an incident where an email with questionable material was circulated by former Chairman Keith Grueneberg and other district employees. In March, Grueneberg “resigned,” as chair, although he voted against his own resignation and told The Union he did not want to resign after the meeting.
Hanson, Warren Knox, Mark Bass and Bob Rhodes did not provide a rationale for why they voted for the “resignation” of Grueneberg in March.
Knox has assumed the role of chairman and will preside over his first full meeting Thursday.
The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Station 84 located at 10135 Coyote St., Nevada City.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4239.