Without any discussion or questions last week, the Central Valley Fire District Board of Trustees unanimously approved implementing changes brought forth by Fire Chief Ron Lindroth and handed Assistant Fire Chief Brian Crandell his walking papers.
Crandell’s position was eliminated to fund two new firefighters, according to district records. Lindroth said additional staffing is necessary because Central Valley’s response time to calls is lacking and the agency has gaps in its coverage due to manpower.
Crandell has been with Central Valley for seven years, he said. He first arrived in the Gallatin Valley in 1978. He has volunteered with various fire departments around the valley and worked at the Montana Fire Services Training School.
According to District Trustee Gil Moore, Crandell has until March 12 as whether or not to accept his severance package. Trustee Chair Mike Wacther offered Crandell a similar package in December before the changes were discussed.
Trustee James Hall voted in favor of implementing the changes, but voted against dismissing Crandell. Hall would not comment on his vote after the meeting Tuesday.
The crowd attending the meeting erupted in applause after resident Tim Anderson spoke.
“Brian, thank you very much,” he said. “I’m sorry they’re doing this to you. I learned so much from you.”
About the future, Crandell said little.
“My family and I are evaluating and assessing every option available to us,” he said.
The outcome is to form one engine company, which will be manned by three paid firefighters and one volunteer. Each engine will operate on a 24-hour cycle.
The department will have to hire two additional firefighters to fill the plan, which willl be paid by dismissing Crandell and reworking overtime, comp time and other pay-related issues.
Should multiple calls come in, paid staff and volunteers and paid staff will fill the roll. Lindroth said one engine should be able to satisfy 80 percent of the agency’s calls.
Lindroth said the whole plan should reduce the fire department’s bottom line by about $23,000.
His plan will implemented slowly with the first steps being a remodel of the Main Street fire station. The current bedrooms and workout room will be gutted to build better and “up to code” bedrooms that will serve the 24-hour staff.
All documents related to the shift, can found at the Main Street fire station.