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CRR board replaces fire chief

Reitz submits resignation at request of board

by: Photo by Holly M. Gill - Former CRR RFPD Chief Patrick Reitz at fire station.


   Fire Chief Patrick Reitz resigned from his position with the Crooked River Ranch Rural Fire Protection District Feb. 17, at the request of the board of directors.
   Reitz was placed on administrative leave on Feb. 15, and told he would be terminated without cause if he didn't resign by Feb. 17, he noted.
   "It was a complete surprise to me," said Reitz. "There was no warning, no previous discussions, counseling or discipline."
   Reitz said that he reluctantly signed the paperwork Wednesday morning and resigned his position as chief of Crooked River Ranch RFPD on Feb. 17.
   Initially offered a 90-day severance package if he didn't resign, Reitz received an additional 90 days for tendering his resignation by the board's deadline.
   Reitz, 37, Was an emergency medical technician, paramedic and firefighter for seven and a half years for Clallam County Fire District #3 in Sequim, Wash., before he started at CRR on Nov. 1, 1998.
   "Before that, I was a volunteer firefighter in Ohio working as an EMT-paramedic," he said.
   At the board meeting on Feb. 17, Reitz thanked those attending. "I feel very fortunate to have served the Crooked River Ranch Rural Fire Protection District," he said. "It is a very unique community, and my time here has been a blessing, although, knowing Crooked River Ranch, you would know I was lying if I did not say at times it seemed like it might have been a curse."
   Reitz also thanked the volunteers and citizens for their participation in the community.
   On Friday, the board of directors issued a press release stating that they had accepted Reitz's resignation, and appointed former assistant chief Larry Langley as interim fire chief.
   Kay Lammers, president of the board, said that Reitz was offered a process to allow him to resign quietly, with dignity, but he chose to make it public by notifying the media.
   "There are two different ways to go about something like this," she said, noting that the board unanimously decided to allow Reitz the opportunity to resign.
   "If the chief hadn't wanted to, we would have had another process," she continued, which would have included an executive session, a public meeting, and airing of all the reasons for the board's decision.
   "We wanted him to have the tools to go on with his career," Lammers said Tuesday. "It was not a pleasant process, and was not a sudden process."
   The district needs to go in a different direction and rebuild its volunteer core, she said. "It had been 30, and now it's nine."
   Lammers doesn't blame the decline on Reitz, however. "Volunteerism is down nationwide; it's not unique to here. One person isn't being held responsible for that," she said. "We need to restore public relations with our community and rebuild our volunteer core."
   Langley, the interim chief, retired from the Bend Fire Department, and has served part time at the Ranch since March of 2000.
   He represents the district at Central Oregon Fire Instructor's Association, Central Oregon Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators, and the Central Oregon Fire Operations Group, according to a press release from the CRR RFPD board.