Wednesday, May 25, 2016
INDEPENDENCE — Al Alcalde submitted a 30-day resignation on April 25 of his position as fire chief for Polk Fire District No. 1. He started the job on Sept. 8, 2015.
The fire board accepted the resignation at a special meeting after a 40-minute executive session.
Alcalde said that in his eight months as fire chief, he hasn’t had a chance to get involved in the community because of an extended work schedule.
“The board has been very supportive and looking for change in the agency,” Alcalde said. “As you are aware, it is very tough to work your way into a closed group.”
Board chair Tom Snair said the resignation was not what the board wanted, but said that Alcalde didn’t turn out to be the best fit for the department.
“It’s not something I’m particularly happy about,” he said. “Sometimes, when you get the shoe home, it doesn’t fit like it did in the store.”
Snair said fire chiefs typically stay three to four years, not just eight months.
“Eight months wasn’t really a fair time to give an evaluation,” Snair said. “It just kept coming to a boil.”
Volunteers and full-time employees were unhappy with Alcalde, Snair said.
Snair said Alcalde has agreed to work beyond the 30-day resignation to finish some tasks he started, including making sure Central School District buildings were up to code and completing job descriptions for firefighters, something the department has lacked for years.
“He wanted to clean up the schools and make sure the safety violations are taken care of,” he said.
Some people were working outside their job descriptions, Snair said.
He and the board hoped having more clarity would help people know exactly what they were expected to do.
“It’s just frustrating for the other people that don’t think things are happening fast enough,” Snair said. “Not all the time does everything go like everyone thinks it should.”
Snair said Alcalde will likely stay another two or three weeks to wrap up projects.
Assistant Chief Neal Olson will serve as interim until the board can begin the process of looking for a new full-time chief.