The Ely Times
The White Pine County Fire Commission appointed Ralph McClintock as interim fire chief for White Pine County.
Ely City Fire Chief Ross Rivera gave an update to the commission. He noted how the fire and EMS department had been super busy.
“I’d like to thank the people in Baker, who have assisted on calls, and Duckwater, Ruth, I hope everybody else comes on board because it is really difficult at this time. There is one lady in Baker, she always stood up at prior fire commission meetings, and she stands strong no matter what, she’s a true responder in the community,” Rivera said.
Commissioner Shane Bybee asked Rivera how the hiring process was coming along, Rivera answered, “Slowly, we haven’t had any responses from the county, my volunteers and paid staff have really stepped up, done a lot of hours, a lot of volunteer hours, doing this thing overnight without having a few months to do so, I had one EMT do have a little bit of a break down because they didn’t have anyone else to assist in an outlying community. Hopefully that will smooth out.”
Commissioner Richard Howe noted that they were actively recruiting volunteers, and a fire chief, explaining that there has been some movement at some of the stations, some are coming back, it’s going to be a bit of a process.
Rivera said, “As far as staffing and responding we got it handled pretty well, I’d say the difficulty is the first response in their own communities.”
Bybee noted that a lot of these issues would be resolved once an interim fire chief is put in place. It would give the fire stations a good point of contact.
Finance Director Elizabeth Frances asked Rivera a questions and noted she hadn’t verified the validity of it, but she asked if the outlining areas were being dispatched.
Rivera noted that dispatch is dispatching all areas, Sheriff Scott Henriod stood before the commission and said, “I can guarantee you that we page at the same time, so what happens is we call the city, and we immediately page that area, McGill, Ruth, Lund or Baker, that page goes out multiple times, if they don’t respond then they don’t respond, but they do get paged.”
Commissioner Ian Bullis asked Rivera to express the commission’s appreciation to all of his staff.
Rivera said, “I would strongly suggest hiring someone within the community, maybe even someone who is or was a firefighter. Hiring outside the community has not been working.”
Bybee was also in agreement with Rivera, explaining that he’d like to see someone local, and at least on a interim basis. “I’ve been contacted by several people who are showing interest. It seems to me.I think we need to act immediately.”
The agenda item to solicit or appoint an interim chief for the White Pine County Fire Protection District was opened for discussion and possible action.
Commissioner Howe agreed with Bybee. “The real important issue here is public safety, we need to have someone as soon as possible. We can still continue to recruit for fire chief, we need someone, we have someone who’s neutral to take over as quickly as possible we cant wait 2-3 weeks.”
McClintock is one of the people who had expressed interest in the interim position. McClintock was present, and was asked to go before the commission and describe his experience.
McClintock said, “I was an Air Force fire fighter for four years, I worked for the Clark County Fire Department for 25 years, I was a captain for 14 years of those years, my administrative experience is not that extensive, I understand the equipment, EMS, I understand that as well, but I was not a paramedic.
“I was an Intermediate EMT, but all that has expired. I retired in 2006, so I haven’t been around it for almost 13 years, but I’m willing to give it a try. I see a need for the community, I’ve lived here since 2004, and I’m willing to help.”
Bullis asked McClintock, if this scared him? McClintock replied, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard a lot of people are unhappy with some of the movement that’s been made, closing the station, I think I would move to retain the volunteers. Volunteers are priceless as far as I’m concerned.”
Howe asked McClintock about his communication skills to outlining areas? He explained how he could handle it, stating he knows how to talk fire, and he understands what they’re saying.
“I have a lot of respect for volunteers, they do what I did for nothing,” McClintock said.
Bybee said, “We need someone with that background, and he’s willing to step out of retirement to assist the community.”
The commission voted unanimously to appoint McClintock as interim fire chief.
Several vehicles were re-assigned to outlining areas, such as a wildland fire truck, going to Baker, after it is repaired, a four-wheeler atv with a snowplow on it, transferred to McGill and a red brush Truck was transferred to Ruth.
Frances spoke of whether or not the county could offer a stipend to volunteers. Frances has begun research in other counties, and cities to see what is comparable. It was also noted that the City of Ely offers a stipend to EMT volunteers at a flat rate.
At the end of the fire commission meeting, public comment was offered and several in the crowd spoke.
Carol McKenzie, prior county commissioner, spoke, “I have a concern about this paying volunteers, I’ve never accepted money to go on a ambulance run, I believe there is a guideline you can only make so much as a volunteer, or you become a full time person. You just got rid of full time people to save money. There are volunteers who do not want to be paid. I don’t want to be paid to go on a call.”
Raelene Mackley prior county commissioner as well, also had a public comment. “I wasn’t going to get up and state anything, I’ve pretty much stated things in previous meetings, but you guys are scrambling now because of fast paced, uneducated, non-communicative, you didn’t communicate with anybody, this could have all been avoided if you communicated with volunteers and paid staff.”
David Steiner said, “I’m a White Pine County resident, and retired firefighter with the City of Ely. I would like to thank you for working on this, there has been a lot of ill feelings, the community could work together, train together, I appreciate you bringing in Mr. McClintock, I think he will do a great job as interim chief, I hope you can find a chief who can work towards the best of the entire community and who will continue to keep neutral.”