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Fire district chief resigns

The Pagosa Fire Protection District will soon be on the lookout for a new chief following the resignation of Ron Thompson, but the structure of the position and the department under the new chief is not currently clear.

Thompson submitted his letter of resignation on June 24, effective July 29.

Thompson has accepted a position with the Missouri Division of Fire Safety Fire Marshall’s Office in Jefferson City and will start work on Aug. 16, according to the resignation letter.

Thompson cited the health of his wife of 41 years as his reason for leaving.

“If it hadn’t been for health issues with my wife, I would be remaining,” Thompson said in an interview.

“I have truly enjoyed my tenure here and hope that I have provided leadership for the future development of the Fire Department,” Thompson wrote in the letter.

Thompson has served as PFPD chief since November 2007, moving to Pagosa Springs from Independence, Mo.

“I think that it’s been a good time here,” Thompson said. “I learned a lot and I really like the people and appreciate their support.”

In fact, Thompson said the people were one of his favorite parts of his time with the PFPD, as well as in previous jobs he’s held.

“It’s the dynamics of the people and learning how to get along with them in their idiosyncracies,” Thompson explained, adding, “I think the staff here is a very loyal staff and dedicated to doing the right things for the right reason.”

The PFPD board of directors met Tuesday night to discuss filling the fire chief vacancy, with no formal decisions made on the topic.

Only three members of the board attended the meeting, and it was quickly decided that a work session on the application, qualifications and salary for the position, as well as a possible restructuring of the department, would be beneficial.

Additionally, board member David Blake reported an offer from Durango Fire and Rescue Authority personnel to offer input on possible structures, and board member Dick Cole passed out copies of fire chief compensation studies and possible new applications for the position for his colleagues to “digest” prior to the work session.

Conversations indicated the search for a new chief may be kept to Colorado, with Blake saying the limitation seemed logical because it would be known that the applicant and his or her family would like the area.

A work session was scheduled for 3 p.m. on July 28, with the district’s paid and volunteer staff invited to provide input.

“I want staff input, very much so,” Vice Chair John Weiss said.

Providing input at the Tuesday meeting was volunteer Bill Wilcox, who offered to serve as fire chief for 90 to 120 days to create a better structure.

Wilcox said he would be willing to serve in a volunteer capacity and receive a $1,000 per month stipend, with the rest of the fire chief salary being spent to hire a full-time operations chief.

Wilcox also suggested other ideas for the department at the meeting.

In addition to his normal duties, Thompson served as chair of the Archuleta County Combined Dispatch Board, which went live with its new dispatch center at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Pagosa Springs Police Chief Bill Rockensock has been appointed to chair the dispatch board.

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