Fire Chief Reinhardt resigns |

Fire Chief Reinhardt resigns

by Merrie Leininger

The East Fork Fire and Paramedic districts are losing their chief.

Jim Reinhardt has been chief for the past five years and decided to retire after 22 years of working as a paid firefighter, not to mention quite a few years as a volunteer. He submitted a letter of resignation to the county commission this week, but it has not been formally accepted.

“It was a hard decision, but sometimes you need new challenges. I have some offers with a couple of companies, one locally and one over the hill in California. I’m just going to take a look and see what my options are out there,” he said.

Reinhardt probably will stay in the same field. Those job offers are part-time teaching and consulting in incident command and wildland fire, he said.

Anyone who has heard him talk about fighting fires knows he’ll probably end up working with a volunteer station.

“Maybe there will be some opportunities in the summer for me to fight wildland fires. Who knows? Maybe I’ll join the volunteer station,” he said.

Reinhardt, 49, said he will now have more time to spend with his family in their Jacks Valley home. Jim and his wife, Karen, a teacher, still have one son at home, Josh, a Douglas High School sophomore. Reinhardt said he also has two grown stepchildren.

n Easy transition. Reinhardt is waiting until May 19 to actually pack up his office. He said the tentative budgets for the districts are due in mid-May.

“My goal is to allow an easy transition for the new person. When it’s time to hand off the baton, I want to have a good, balanced budget in place, and I don’t want to leave the district in the lurch,” he said.

Reinhardt said it was a good time for him to leave.

“The fire and paramedic districts are in pretty good shape. There are good people in key positions now. I’m looking forward to reducing the number of meetings I have to attend,” he said. “It’s been a real pleasure serving the citizens of Douglas County for the past five years, and I want to thank them for that.”

The county commissioners are Reinhardt’s bosses and will make the final decision when hiring a replacement. Chairman Jacques Etchegoyhen said he will be missed and hard to replace.

“We’ll start as soon as possible, but to be honest, it will take us a while to fill the position,” he said.

The position currently pays $61,639 to Reinhardt.

n Loss. Etchegoyhen commended Reinhardt for sticking with it through a tough period.

“It’s been a tumultuous time for the last five years because we’ve been going though a lot of changes. We’ve tried to make the budget more straight forward and have a purchase program, not just buy things when folks think they need it. It’s been a difficult time, but we’re better for it,” he said.

County Manager Dan Holler agreed the district is financially more secure because of Reinhardt.

“He implemented quite a bit. It has been a positive change,” Holler said.

n Paramedics. Reinhardt said one other personnel change has happened in the past week. Training captain Tod Carlini was named deputy chief of the paramedic district.

Reinhardt said Carlini will still be assisting with fire training, but will be in charge of billing, purchasing and supervising the staff of the paramedic district.