Fire chief ready to hand over reins |

Fire chief ready to hand over reins

by Merrie Leininger

Jim Reinhardt may be retiring, but he’s not slowing down.

The chief of the East Fork Fire and Paramedic districts will be leaving Friday, but he still will be involved in the district, this time as a volunteer.

Reinhardt said after five years, and his 50th birthday March 19, it is time to move on, but obviously not from the industry or the area. He will be working part-time for fire agencies in the private sector. He also plans on volunteering with the Jacks Valley Volunteer Fire Department.

Reinhardt will be on-call all summer for fire agencies across the country. When help is needed, he is on call out of the Sierra Front Wildfire Cooperators and can be asked to fly out anytime. He then will make a commitment to work with that group of firefighters for two to three weeks.

He said his wife Karen is not happy he will be gone for extended periods, but between consulting jobs, Reinhardt hopes to get some work done around his Jacks Valley home and spend more time with his family which also includes Josh, his youngest son who is a sophomore at Douglas High School. Reinhardt also has two grown stepchildren.

He said both he and his wife are happy he will be out of the “pressure cooker” of local politics and will try to enjoy his “retirement.”

This summer, he will be going to Alaska on a fishing trip and has horse-riding trips planned with the Back County Horsemen.

n Before you go. In this final week on the job, Reinhardt is packing up his office and completing an audit of both the fire and paramedic districts that the county asked him to turn in before he leaves.

Reinhardt said looking back over the districts, he is pleased with the way he is leaving things.

East Fork has built two new fire stations, opened bids on the new Ranchos station last week and put additions on three other stations, Reinhardt said.

“We’ve brought the district into the 90s – into the computer age. There are now personal computers in all the stations and eventually they will all be linked together,” he said.

But, Reinhardt said, he is proudest of the attitude that has been cultivated among staff, full-time and volunteer.

“When I came here, my goal was to develop a sense of team. I think we have accomplished some good things,” he said. “I am extremely proud of the career staff of both districts. They are very dedicated, hard-working people who work together as a team.”

n New person. The 16 applicants for the job that pays between $49,961-$68,099 will be whittled down by the fire advisory board in June and the remaining few will be interviewed by the County Commission at their June 15 meeting. Reinhardt said whoever replaces him needs to be up to a lot of work.

“I think the new person is going to have some real challenges,” he said.

Specifically, Reinhardt said it is time for the county to start thinking about hiring full-time firefighters.

“We’ve had a couple hundred more calls than last year, and last year we had over 3,000 calls. So the district is growing and the volunteers are being challenged to meet response times,” he said. “There are so many demands for training, it is harder to get people to join some departments.”

However, Reinhardt said, he is proud of the way the volunteers have been working together for the community.

He said five years ago, there were a lot of “turf battles” between departments.

“We’ve overcome a lot of that,” he said.