Daily Camera (Boulder)
Chief could become at-will employee
Nederland Fire Protection District Chief Rick Dirr could become an at-will employee after Thursday’s almost five-hour board meeting to discuss the fate of his employment.
The board voted to look into terminating Dirr’s contract to allow him to become an atwill employee while maintaining the same duties. Board members said Dirr’s contract has been the same for almost 20 years and is outdated. Dirr agreed to the proposed contract termination. The board will next meet with an attorney to draft the details.
Board members, firefighters and community members at the meeting expressed their opinions about Dirr’s behavior and about the Nederland Fire Protection District as a whole. Some expressed respect for Dirr and his tenure. One firefighter phoned in from an assignment in California to state he could not continue with Nederland Fire if Dirr remained chief.
Others accused some board members of having a hidden agenda in trying to oust Dirr. Many questioned why the investigation was not completed by a third party.
Dirr was placed on leave Aug. 24 after the board’s special meeting Aug. 19 as the district investigated an alleged “failure to follow rec
ognized protocols that lead to a potentially hazardous situation,” according to a Facebook post.
The hazardous situation that led to Dirr’s leave was not publicly known until Thursday’s meeting. Board members discussed Dirr’s role in the July 3 home explosion in the 200 block of Alpine Drive and accused him of failing to follow incident command.
Dirr joined the fire department in 1990 and served as a volunteer for 10 years before becoming the first compensated fire chief in 1999, the fire department’s website states.
Dirr penned a public apology Monday, and also read the apology at the board meeting.
“As regards to July 3rd, my failure to check in with incident command was strictly my decision, reckless and insulting at best,” the apology states. “Although I have numerous excuses for ending up at this point, I believe that the deeper ultimate cause was arrogance and failure to show respect for the Incident Command System, and the members and officers of the department.”
Board members and Dirr’s apology both referenced another allegation of misconduct against Dirr, saying he previously brought his daughter to an active fire.
“Similarly for the escaped fire on West Magnolia … where I first failed to check in with command, and brought my daughter to observe the firefighting activity,” Dirr stated in the apology. “My intention was not to burden the (incident command) and operations with concern for my activities and what I at the time felt was the supervision of a junior firefighter.”
The board is next scheduled to meet Wednesday.