Colorado

Jul 31, 2014 12:28 AM by Maddie Garrett

Future of Black Forest Fire Chief Up in the Air, Board Meets with Lawyers

The Black Forest Fire/Rescue Protection District Board held a special meeting Wednesday night to discuss any action it might take in regards to Fire Chief Bob Harvey's status. Basically, they talked about whether to remove him from office or not.

It's been a point of contention with some board members and some of the community in Black Forest. But because Harvey is on medical leave for post traumatic stress disorder, it makes the situation more complex.

The Fire Board immediately went into executive session to have a closed-door meeting with lawyers, not only to discuss what they can and cannot do, but about what they should do.

"We're trying to do the best by the District and give the employee the opportunity to get better and reach a resolution," said P.J. Langmaid.

The Board ultimately decided to postpone any decision on Harvey's status, saying they are continuing to communicate and work with him to resolve the matter.

Harvey has been out of the office since June 4, 2014, when he publicly stated he's suffering from PTSD and will be on medical leave for an undetermined amount of time.

"It's been a long year since things started back in July 2013," said Nate Dowden, a Black Forest resident at the meeting.

According to the Fire District's policies, Harvey can be on medical leave for 12 weeks, and has the right to request an extension. The Board can also require an employee to submit appropriate medical certification from his or her physician. Such certification must include, at a minimum, the date the disability began, a diagnosis, and the probable date of the employee's return to work.

The policy also states that the employee may be required to submit to medical examinations by physicians designated by the District at its discretion and at the District's expense at the beginning of, during, or at he end of the employee's leave period, and to provide the District with access to his or her medical records as required.

But the Board said, they can't comment on if any of that is being done.

"I'm not going to discuss it, it's a personnel issue," said Board Member Rick McMorran.

And when the Board announced it wasn't making any decisions or having any further discussion at Wednesday's meeting, the frustration from the public was audible.

"There was hope that we would be able to see new leadership with the Chief's position as well, and I think the frustration that was expressed tonight was the desire that people want to be able to move on," explained Dowden.

Some Board members said, they're ready to move on too.

"I'm equally as frustrated," said Langmaid. "Sometimes those decisions take longer than we would like but we have to do the right thing."

Unless Harvey requests and is granted an extension, there is roughly a month left of his medical leave.

 

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