EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - One Black Forest Fire Board member said residents have a right to an impartial decision following an investigation into its fire chief.
The Black Forest Fire Board hired an independent investigator to look into allegations leveled against Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey. The independent investigation comes after KRDO NewsChannel 13's Target 13 investigation into questions raised about decisions made by Harvey during the initial hours of the Black Forest Fire.
Rick McMorran is the vice-chair of the Black Forest Fire Board.
He said very serious allegations have been made against Harvey by El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, members of the public and other local emergency responders.
He said many residents of this fire district have also expressed concern that the Board, or members of the Board, have reached a foregone conclusion without waiting for the investigation to be conducted and may not render an impartial decision. He said the Fire District Board has a duty to look into all of those allegations, evaluate them, and then come to a proper conclusion and resolution.
He added in an email Tuesday that residents of this Fire District have an absolute right to expect this investigation will be handled in a fair and impartial way.
He released the following statement:
"With those things in mind, I will tell you that I find it grossly inappropriate for any member of our Board of Directors to publicly comment on Chief Harvey's performance and decision making during the Black Forest Fire, whether in support of him or against him, until after all of the facts have been gathered and the investigation completed. Remaining open and impartial in this process is critical and any deviation from that standard should be unacceptable in the eyes of the public.
More than 300 members of this community signed a petition for the Board to review. I find that to be a significant number that should not be taken lightly and would love to make myself available to the residents on that list to hear their concerns. That petition was given to our Board Chairman at our regular Board meeting back on December 10. Unfortunately I have not yet been provided with a copy of it to review.
With all of that being said, I will not comment on Chief Harvey's performance or decision making during the Black Forest Fire. I will patiently await the conclusion of the investigation and will rely on my fellow Board Members to remain open and impartial until the investigation is completed and has been reviewed by them so that they can reach unbiased conclusions and decisions."
A public relations firm hired by the Black Forest Fire Board announced Dec. 10 that the board hired retired Greenwood Village Police commander Dave Fisher to lead the independent investigation. Fisher will be assisted by Dave Daley, an operations executive officer at South Metro Fire Rescue in Centennial.
The investigation is expected to wrap up early next year.