Fire Chief's Future Hangs In Balance

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William Dekker's future as chief of the Pine Strawberry Fire Department will be decided tomorrow, Wednesday.

The Pine Strawberry Fire Board will hold an executive session and special meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the firehouse in Pine to determine Dekker's fate.

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Bill Dekker

Dekker was placed on 30 days paid leave, after his actions during an incident over Memorial Day weekend resulted in disorderly conduct charges filed against him by the Gila County Sheriff's Office.

Board Chair Rose Harper said only that Dekker's position as fire chief is up in the air.

"We can continue his leave, we can fire him or we can reinstate him as chief," she said. "It is time to do something."

Dekker's term of paid administrative leave will end July 13.

Harper said she spent "many hours" investigating the incident and has reported her findings back to the other board members.

Harper said she has also been in contact with Dekker throughout his absence.

"He has been performing very well at all the terms we've asked him to comply with," she said.

Harper said Dekker is aware of the consequences of any further misaction, in the event he is reinstated.

"We put him on notice that this will never be tolerated again," Harper said. "No one person is indispensable."

PSFD Captain Lynn Larned has been the acting chief since Dekker's suspension began.

Board chair to resign

Harper announced her resignation as PSF Board Chair, effective after the regular meeting on July 18. Harper said she is resigning for personal reasons.

"My resignation has absolutely nothing to do with what the fire board has been going through," she said. "It was very hard for me to resign."

Harper has been on the Pine-Strawberry Fire Board since 2002 and has chaired the board since last July.

The July 18 meeting agenda includes a motion to determine the next chairperson, Harper said. However, if the board cannot decide upon a chairperson at that meeting, board member Jessica Barnett will serve as interim chair until a decision can be reached.

The board will be reviewing applications and holding interviews, beginning in August, for the selection of a new board member.

Anyone interested in applying should send a letter, including personal qualifications and reasons of interest, to 6198 W. Hardscrabble Road in Pine by July 31.

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