Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre appointed Connie Bacon as interim chief of the Bear Creek Volunteer Fire Department Tuesday after meeting with Bacon, and discussing her plans for the department while Fire Chief Mark Beals is on leave from the department. His leave of absence, and replacement with Bacon, a 30-year member of the close-knit fire department, who has acted as assistant fire chief, was recommended last week by the BCVFD Board of Directors.
The mayor had suggested appointing retired former Seward Fire Chief Dave Squires to the post, but the idea was met with some board resistance. Members had wanted someone from their own department leading them, and some had promised to help Bacon out, especially when she is away working her two week shift at Prudhoe Bay. Squires also expressed some reservations about stepping in under the circumstances.
“Following our lengthy and detailed discussions, I am confident that Connie will do a good job for the Department and community as interim Chief and thank her for her willingness to serve in that capacity
Dear Board Members and Volunteers,” Navarre wrote, in an email Tuesday evening to board members and volunteers.
“I ask all of you to support Chief Bacon and to work with her as she moves the department in a positive direction. I know that this situation has been difficult for everyone and I appreciate your patience, cooperation and understanding.”
Most volunteers in the fire department were shocked to recently learn that there had been a deep rift between the mayor-appointed staff trainer and the fire chief, and also between Beals and Navarre, and also that there had been internal complaints made by former staffers to the mayor, and that he’d been conducting an in-depth investigation into those personnel allegations.
The timing of the long time chief’s departure was especially unfortunate in that it came just days after the community dedication and celebrated the new fire station that he had worked for many years to get built.