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Timberlake Fire terminates chief

by Brian Walker
| June 10, 2010 9:00 PM

HAYDEN - Timberlake Fire commissioners decided to terminate the contract of Chief Jack Krill, effective immediately, on Wednesday night.

"The board decided that we're moving in a different direction and that it doesn't need the services of Chief Krill anymore," Commissioner David "Rudy" Rudebaugh said. "It had nothing to do with any type of cause or performance. We're just going in a different direction."

Krill, who has been Timberlake's chief for nearly two years, declined to comment on Wednesday night, saying that Rudebaugh requested that all media inquiries to the district itself go through him.

Sixty-eight people attended the meeting at Northern Lakes' fire station in Hayden. No public comment was taken from Timberlake commissioners.

Prior to the hour-and-a-half executive session to discuss Krill's contract, Northern Lakes and Timberlake commissioners during a joint meeting agreed to form a committee to discuss management options for Northern Lakes to oversee Timberlake's operations.

"We'll do some discovery on how to do this," Northern Lakes Chief Dean Marcus said. "The fact-finding committee will learn what the expectations are from them."

Timberlake covers Athol, Bayview and Careywood; Northern Lakes Hayden, Rathdrum and Hayden Lake.

The committee will consider personnel, compensation, payroll, supplies, maintenance and other areas.

"We'll see if it makes sense and saves the taxpayers money," Rudebaugh said.

Timberlake will hold a public hearing on the management option with Northern Lakes on Tuesday at 6 p.m., most likely at the Athol Community Center.

"It will explain to the taxpayers more about what the management contract will look like and the benefits it will bring to the district," Rudebaugh said.

The change to Timberlake's management structure is the latest development in a flurry of activities that has divided the district.

Krill's decision last spring to sideline most of the district's fleet so it could be brought up to national safety standards raised some eyebrows.

It meant taking 17 vehicles out of service and temporarily not having a vehicle available at five of the district's six stations. It left just one engine, two ambulances owned by Kootenai County and the fire boat in service.

"These safety and state of the district issues are not new and are not just my opinion," Krill wrote in an e-mail to Timberlake's commissioners at the time. "We can no longer compromise the safety of our responders with inadequate maintenance."

Some, including the district's firefighters union, supported the move because they believed it was necessary for firefighter safety, especially after an engine's accelerator became temporarily stuck during a test drive.

But others argued that all of the repairs to the fleet and fire stations were unnecessary and the inspections were a publicity stunt to get more funding for the district.

Commissioners decided to not hold a levy vote in May.