Feb 26, 2011 12:57 AM by Matt Stafford

Peyton Fire District trying to bring volunteers back, making changes

The embattled Peyton Fire District Board faces tough decisions as 12 of their firefighters resigned earlier this month -- citing safety issues with the acting fire chief, Jack Rauer. Rauer was placed on paid leave in January while the board looked into allegations, but then was reinstated in February, which prompted the mass resignation. Since then the board and the firefighters have been looking for ways to work out their differences.

"When cooler heads prevail perhaps there will be some reconsideration," said Leon Gomes, board president. "We've already had one return, so hopefully we'll have more do that." Gomes hopes to have the firefighters back on staff.

"I hope that we can resolve maybe finding a new chief or dissolving the one we have," said Chris Evans, a firefighter who resigned. Evans still maintains safety concerns and wants them solved before he comes back.

The board made a few related decisions in their regular meeting Friday night at Peyton High School -- a meeting that was packed.

They decided to eliminate the paid fire chief position, reverting back to the position being volunteer status. That will go into effect June 1st or if Chief Rauer resigns before then.

The board agreed to meet with all of the firefighters, those who resigned and those who stayed, to discuss the issues at hand.

A plan was created to reinstate the firefighters who quit about a month ago. The firefighters will be allowed to return with no probationary action against them, but they will have to do so within a week following the meeting between the board and all of the firefighters.

The board says they hope their meeting with all of the firefighters will happen before their next formal meeting on March 8th.

Surrounding agencies have agreed to help out until the Peyton Fire District has their issues straightened out. Board members thanked the agencies during their meeting Friday.


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