Dec 11, 2013 12:50 AM by Maddie Garrett

Black Forest Residents Call for Fire Chief's Dismissal

The dispute over the Fire Chief's actions at the beginning of the Black Forest Fire is only heating up, that much became evident at Tuesday night's meeting of the Black Forest Fire District Board. A petition with almost 300 signatures was brought to the Board, asking for the resignation of Fire Chief Bob Harvey at the meeting.

But it's becoming clear, that some people in Black Forest are not only upset with Chief Harvey, but are now dissatisified with the Board of Directors.

"We want the Fire Board to realize that the citizens, at least a good portion of the citizens in Black Forest, have no confidence in Chief Harvey because of what we're hearing and we want answers to our questions we deserve that much," said Cynthia Bullock, who signed the petition against Harvey.

While the petition can't demand any action from the Board, those who have signed it hope it will send a clear message to Harvey and the Board.

"I think that the right thing for him to do would be to resign and spare the community any more grief, we've suffered plenty of that in the last six months," said Bullock.

It remains a community divided though, some people remain supportive of Harvey. There is also a separate petition in support of Harvey that is now circulating. Organizers are still collecting signatures though, and there's no timeline on when that petition will be brought to the Board.

"I support the Chief, I think we live in America and I think that means a man deserves to have an investigation and find out the facts," said one person publicly at the meeting.

The Fire Board is also remaining on the Chief's side, saying in a statement released Tuesday, that they support the Chief and his decision making.

"I'm not defensive I'm just saying that we're going to wait to hear the results of the investigation before we make any decision on what we're going to do," Chairman Edward Bracken said at Tuesday's meeting.

But some people remain skeptical that the outside investigation being ordered by the Board will be a fair one.

"They have hired an investigator, who doesn't have all of the facts, will not receive all of the facts because it's a criminal investigation. So anything that they tell us is already prejudiced," said petition organizer P.J. Langmaid.

Harvey, once again remained tight lipped on the issues and allegations against him. When asked if he had any comment on the petition asking for his dismissal, Harvey responded, "no comment."

But the people against Harvey aren't keeping quiet. Even though the petition can't demand any action, those upset said they have another way of enacting change.

"What they seem to have neglected is that we the voters have our choice and we will be voting them out, replacing the Fire Board and getting a new Chief," said Langmaid.

The Fire Board has hired an independent investigator, a retired police commander from the Denver area, to conduct an internal investigation into the events surrounding the Black Forest Fire, specifically the actions of the Chief in the early hours of the response to the fire. Bracken could not tell News 5 how much that investigation would cost at Tuesday night's meeting. The investigation is expected to be complete sometime in January.


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