The Falcon Fire Protection District held its regular board meeting May 15. All board members were present, along with attorneys Richard Shearer and Alan Call. Chief Trent Harwig, Jeff Petersma, battalion chief, Cory Galicia, battalion chief, FFPD members and about 20 other people, including representatives of Ellicott Fire Protection District. Glenn Levy, acting chief, reported via a conference call.Statement from the boardBoard president Kelly Starkman read the following statement:ìThe board considered some personnel issues at the April 24, 2013, meeting. After discussion in executive session, the board determined that it was appropriate to investigate allegations concerning Battalion Chief Cory Galicia, Battalion Chief Jeff Petersma and Fire Chief Trent Harwig. The board determined that it would be appropriate to put chiefs Harwig, Petersma and Galicia on administrative leave, with pay, and to hire a trained, independent investigator to conduct a third-party investigation and provide the board with a report.ìAfter the executive session, the board reconvened to open session and voted to put chiefs Harwig, Petersma and Galicia on administrative leave, with pay, and to join and hire Mountain States Employers Council to conduct this investigation of the allegations. The board also voted to appoint Glenn Levy as acting fire chief while the investigation is in progress.ìAs with any investigation, allegations may prove to be founded or unfounded. The fact that an investigation is being conducted does not mean the board has concluded that the allegations are either true or false. The board anticipates the investigation will be completed soon. However, the investigation involves internal personnel matters and no further information will be available to the public at this time on the matter.îPublic commentDick Stuart asked the board to consider holding public comments both at the beginning and end of meetings, so that attendees could make statements regarding items discussed at the meeting.Michael Henley, fire suppression captain at Ellicott Fire Protection District, expressed support for Harwig, Petersma and Galicia, calling them ìoutstanding fire officers.îTerry Reed asked the board to consider the facts and be ìtruly unbiasedî in this case and noted that the situation has had a detrimental effect on all involved. He asked the board to immediately reinstate the three chiefs and issue them a public apology.CorrespondenceFFPD received a letter from Edith Marchbanks regarding a response to her home for a smoldering grill on a deck. ìWe are extremely lucky to have firefighters like them to protect our homes and property.îTreasurer’s reportThe budget is on track with 33 percent of the fiscal year complete. Overall operations expenses are at 32 percent. Total anticipated revenue is at 56 percent with a bump from property taxes expected in June.Acting Chief Glenn Levy reported that crews have done a great job managing the stations and equipment. He also said that Battalion Chief Curtis Kauffman and Vernon Champlin, division chief, have done a great job with additional assignments.Chief’s reportLevy highlighted several calls over the past month:
- A major natural gas leak at Highway 24 and Meridian Road
- Two ice storms, one with numerous accidents and slideoffs
- A traffic accident that caused injuries to two people and a dog. Crews took care of the patients and also transported the dog to a local animal hospital. The dog did not survive its injuries, but Levy commended the compassion shown by FFPD personnel.
- A gas line rupture requiring evacuation of several homes
- Two traffic accidents resulting in three fatalities
- Several small structure fires in the district, as well as mutual aid to neighboring districts on a couple of fully involved structures.