Local Fire Chief Won't Return To Work

Local Fire Chief Bob Harvey posted a public statement that he has separated his employment with the Black Forest Fire District.

Two months ago, Former Chief Bob Harvey announced he was taking a sick leave and then never returned to work.

The Black Forest Fire Board says they are very confused about how this went down. They say they found Chief Bob Harvey's LinkedIn profile online, where it says he is the previous Black Forest fire chief and is now self-employed as a fire consultant. We did some research and found out he registered his business name with the state less than three months after the Black Forest Fire in 2013.

In June, Harvey read a letter to the board stating that he felt he was suffering from PTSD from the fire, and that he felt there was a hostile working environment between him and the board.

Here’s the timeline of what happened next:

Harvey placed himself on paid sick leave in June. For the past 11 weeks, the fire board says it's made numerous attempts to reach out to Harvey to see how long he would be gone but got no response.

One week ago, the board released a statement suggesting that Harvey had vacated his job. In the statement, the board said that they'd been hearing that Harvey was telling people he was unemployed. On Aug. 13, the board said Harvey came in to clean out his desk, then left again. Harvey said nothing publicly, and all attempts by 11 News to reach him were unsuccessful.

Fast forward to Wednesday night; the board says it has to move forward.

At the board meeting on Wednesday we learned more about what happened when Harvey cleaned out his desk a week earlier. The board said Harvey also removed his name from the wall and dropped off his district-owned property. He reportedly never said anything to the board while he was at the fire house.

“It is a unique situation. Normally an employee will converse with their employers and let them know what their plans are and what they intend to do. It doesn't usually happen that you go 11 weeks without any suggestions or feedback,” explained Black Forest Fire Board Chairman Rick McMorran.

“The community relies on its fire chief, and to just up and disappear and have no communication is very disappointing,” said Seth Whitworth.

The board tells 11 News they had to hire a lawyer to figure out this situation, which cost them a few thousand dollars.

The board is now looking for Harvey's replacement. The assistant fire chief, Jim Rebitski, will continue to serve as interim chief for now.

11 News stopped by Bob Harvey's house again on Wednesday night. We were told he was out of town.


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