New chief for fire district

Craig's fire board voted unanimously to appoint former Deputy Fire Chief Chris Nichols as the department's new leader Thursday night.

Bill Johnston replaces Nichols as the deputy fire chief.

The choice of Nichols was a "no brainer" Craig Rural Fire Protection District board member Byron Willems said.

"We asked all the firefighters what they thought and the vast majority wanted Chris," Willems said.

The decision to appoint a fire chief usually rests solely with the board, Willems said.

Nichols replaces former Fire Chief Roy Mason.

The position was unadvertised because the job is considered unpaid. Officers and firefighters are paid an hourly wage when they respond to calls for service.

Nichols, 49, started 19 years ago as a firefighter with the department.

He served as an officer for 13 years and as the deputy fire chief for the past six years.

Johnston, 52, started 18 years ago with the department. He was a firefighter for five years and has served as an officer for the past 13 years.

"I'm proud to be a leader of a group of dedicated professionals," Nichols said. "I'm eager to grow as a chief and embrace new technology."

According to the department's policy, firefighters and officers who have served with the force for 20 years or more and who are 50 or older are eligible for retirement benefits.

Mason, who retired earlier this month, said he left the force partly because he wanted to earn the income.

Nichols said he plans to be chief as long as he can balance his responsibilities between family, work and the fire department.

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