37-year fire chief departing Carbondale and Rural Fire District | PostIndependent.com

37-year fire chief departing Carbondale and Rural Fire District

Ryan Summerlin
Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District Fire Chief Ron Leach

Longtime Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District Chief Ron Leach is set to leave the department soon, after a career that started in the 1970s.

Leach, who has been with Carbondale Fire for 40 years, and its fire chief for 37 years, is expected to soon sign a separation agreement, ending his tenure as the department chief.

Gene Schilling, Carbondale Fire District board president, and also the Carbondale police chief, said that the board and Leach reached a mutual decision to part ways.

“He wanted some weight off his shoulders of being the fire chief,” and the board did feel it had a position for him at the district, said Schilling.

The separation agreement also stipulates a $98,000 lump sum payment, less taxes, and 13 months of family medical insurance coverage. Leach has not yet signed the separation agreement, having been given a standard time frame to have his attorney review it.

Schilling called it an amicable separation, which shouldn’t be read as any kind of punitive action.

“He did a great job for the people, the town and the district for many years as chief,” Schilling said. “And the department has grown into one of the premiere, if not the premiere, departments on the Western Slope” in terms of call response, quality of care and quality of staff.

In the meantime, Deputy Chief Rob Goodwin will be taking over as interim fire chief, and the board has not decided when or whether it will conduct a replacement search. There’s a chance that Goodwin could be selected as a permanent fire chief, according to Schilling.

Leach is expected to sign the agreement by Feb. 15, but his end date could come sooner if he chooses, said Schilling.

Leach did not return a call from the Post Independent requesting comment.

Meanwhile, petitions are available for the fire district’s upcoming board election. The deadline to submit a petition is March 2 at 4:30 p.m.

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