Resident not considered for local fire department

Brandon Johnson

A longtime firefighter is feeling burned after being rejected by the local department.

Nine of the 29 people who applied to Craig Fire/Rescue this summer are being considered. Dave Roberts, a firefighter since 1986, isn’t among them and isn’t happy about it.

At the Craig Rural Fire Protection District’s regular board meeting Thursday night, Robert’s wife, Jackie, told board members the department made a mistake when it passed over someone with 19 years of experience.

“I think the fire department needs to rethink their hiring policies here in Craig,” Jackie Roberts said.

But department officials say experience isn’t the only criteria it uses to select volunteers.

Roberts has lived in Craig for 10 years, commuting to the Denver area to work with the West Metro Fire Department. He recently retired from West Metro and lives in Craig fulltime.

Jackie Roberts said she wasn’t trying to get her husband a job Thursday. But as a volunteer in the community, she said she was concerned that the department was setting a bad precedent by turning away someone with her husband’s experience.

Finding people in small towns who are willing to give their time is hard enough, she said.

She said she thought personality conflicts played a role in the department’s decision.

Although the board isn’t involved in hiring, President Tom Cotton said it would take Roberts’ concerns into consideration.

Dave Roberts will continue to volunteer in Steamboat Springs but said he doesn’t plan to apply with the Craig department again.

“I’ve probably run more calls than this entire department put together,” he said. “They could have had me cheap.”

After the meeting, Fire Chief Chris Nichols said that experience isn’t the only quality considered by the five-firefighter selection committee.

“It is a wide spectrum of abilities,” Nichols said. “It’s not solely based on experience.”

Nichols isn’t a member of the selection committee.

The department commonly hires firefighters with no experience and trains them, Nichols said.

Firefighters aren’t technically volunteers because they are paid per call, Deputy Chief Bill Johnston said.

The committee made the cuts based on applications, performance in interviews and a physical agility test, Nichols said.

Although personality isn’t a formal requirement, Nichols said the committee tries to choose people it thinks will work well with the rest of the department.

“It has to be a good fit for the organization,” Nichols said.

The nine people still in the running must go through psychological and physical exams before they can become probationary firefighters.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or

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