Craig Fire/Rescue chief retires abruptly

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Bill Johnston

Craig Fire/Rescue Chief Bill Johnston announced his retirement last Thursday, and it was effective immediately.

“Once I make a decision, I carry it out swiftly,” Johnston said.

Johnston had worked with Fire/Rescue for 26 years, but retired abruptly Thursday without an extensive explanation of why, or why he didn’t give a longer notice.

“I reached the point where it was time to retire,” he said.

Thursday afternoon the Craig Rural Fire Protection District Board of Directors approached Battalion Chief KC Hume to ask him if he would take on the role of interim fire chief while they sought out a replacement for Johnston.

“When I agreed to the appointment as the interim chief, I assured the Fire Board that we would proceed in the same manner that we have in the past,” Hume said.

While Johnston leaving was certainly a challenge the department would have to deal with, Hume said Fire/Rescue would still be effective. Employees and firefighters would remain safe, he said, and members of the community can continue to rely on Fire/Rescue.

Sgt. John Forgay, a Fire Board director, said it will take time for the board to develop a hiring strategy. They may not work out a plan until the next board meeting in about two weeks.

Forgay said he was sorry to see Johnston go.

“Bill Johnston was an excellent chief and firefighter,” he said. “No one likes to lose anybody with that experience.”

Hume echoed that sentiment.

“I have the utmost respect for him,” he said. Johnston “has been a mentor and a good friend to me.”

Johnston said he will miss his co-workers the most. Of his work experience, he most valued “the firefighters that I was privileged to work with,” he said.

Erin Fenner can be reached at 970-875-1794 or efenner@craigdailypress.com.

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