Black Forest Fire Board Eliminates Paid Fire Fighters From Station 2

Image from the Black Forest Fire, June 2013.

A part-time firefighter position is being eliminated and there will no longer be any paid firefighters at one fire station in Black Forest.

This decision was made by the fire board Wednesday night. It's to help cover the costs of the independent investigation into the Black Forest Fire and their chief to see if he mishandled the start of fire. That investigation later revealed he did not.

There was a long list of cuts the board had to make. Those cuts will help pay for the $100,000 in legal fees for that independent investigation. The board had only budgeted $25,750 for legal fees.

At the meeting, board members made the decision on just what to cut. They're not changing the overall budget $2.2 million.

There were two part-time firefighters positions in Black Forest Fire Station 2, on the northern end of Black Forest. They eliminated one position, and are transferring the other to their main fire station.

So that means only volunteer firefighters will continue to work from that northern station.

We’re told the two part-time jobs were filled by several different firefighters who are employed full time at other departments, earning extra money by working selected shifts at the northern station. A spokesperson with Black Forest Fire and Rescue says no one is losing a job with the department.

We spoke to residents who said they are worried about the changes after what happened last summer. We also talked with the board chair about why he said this was necessary.

"We had to do some serious changes to cover the shortfall we had on one line; we have expenses that we have to pay," board chair Ed Bracken said.

We’re told the fire station that will only be manned by volunteers, wasn't as busy as the main fire station. Board members said if that changes, they will re-consider the decision.

Last week, the district attorney said the Black Forest Fire Board did nothing wrong when it spent more than $100,000 on legal fees, even though that's not what was budgeted.