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Petition calling for fire chief's dismissal to be turned in to fire board

Petition calling for fire chief's dismissal to be turned in

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - A petition calling for the dismissal of Black Forest's fire chief will be turned in at a fire board meeting Tuesday.

The petition is one of two circulating in the Black Forest about Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey. One petition asks the fire board to remove Harvey from its post. The other petition rallies support for Harvey.

The petitions come after a KRDO NewsChannel 13 investigative series into questions raised about the decisions made by Harvey during the initial hours of the Black Forest fire.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said it took more than two hours for Harvey to pass command of the fire to the Sheriff's Office. Maketa said it delayed additional resources from getting into the fire fight during the critical first hours.

"One of the fundamental rights people have in America is the right to petition government," said El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams.

Williams is well-versed in petitions. His office oversaw the recall election of State Sen. John Morse in District 11.

Williams said this is a different type of petition because Harvey was appointed, not elected.

"This is a traditional petition in the that it's a request, it's not something that carries a legally binding effect," said Williams.

Instead, he said the petition serves as a symbol to the fire board.

"I believe a board would look at input they get from the citizens they represent.  It doesn't mean they have to do anything with it," said Williams. "It would be something worth reviewing if a number of citizens ask you to look at a particular issue regardless of what that issue might be."

Rick Nearhoof and his neighbors have signed the petition to dismiss Harvey.

"People have to answer to their actions and this is just another way to make them Answer for their actions," said Nearhoof.

Bill Buckman signed the petition to support Harvey.

"I think chief Harvey is a good man and he did an excellent job during this fire," said Buckman.

The Black Forest Fire Board meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Black Forest fire station on Teachout Road.

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