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Columbia River Fire & Rescue Fire Chief announces retirement

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CRFR chief expected to retire in June but will stay until department hires a replacement


Tappan
Longtime Columbia River Fire & Rescue Fire Chief Jay Tappan will retire in June when his current contract expires, he reported to the Spotlight Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 5.

As the Spotlight was going to press Thursday, the CRFR board of directors was scheduled to hold a special meeting Jan. 7 to discuss next steps in the process of selecting a replacement for Tappan.

The board was also expected to review the fire chief job description and determine how it would choose a new fire chief.

Board President Mark Kreutzer said the board has a range of recruitment options, including going through the Special Districts Association of Oregon to hire an interim chief, recruiting an outside hire, or promoting an employee from within.

Tappan and Kreutzer both said it is premature to speculate who might be hired for the job.

In May 2015, the CRFR board of directors renewed Tappan’s contract for one year at a $116,000 yearly salary. Discussions about Tappan’s retirement surfaced in April 2015, but at the time he said he had not made a decision to step down.

Tappan, who will be 66 years old this month, said it has been “his game plan” to retire in the near future and had expressed that desire to the board, making it clear he wanted to end his contract by June this year.

Although his retirement is still six months off, Kreutzer said it is likely Tappan would continue to work with the fire department to help the newly hired fire chief transition into the position.

“A lot of times we have employees do that. ... especially, with things like fire chiefs; it makes things a lot easier,” Kreutzer said.

Kreutzer, who has been on the CRFR board of directors since 2003, helped choose Tappan to lead the fire department.

“Jay’s very personable. He’s been around with the community for a long time,” Kreutzer said. “He knew everybody and everybody knew him.”

Tappan has served as the CRFR fire chief since 2004, but has worked for the fire district since 1996. Over his career with the fire district, Tappan has been involved in numerous projects, including the formation of the former Columbia Health District, which collected tax revenue to build a critical access hospital in Columbia County. The district was dissolved in 2012 after the state failed to provide a certificate of need to build the hospital.