Guest opinion: We deserve answers about termination of North Summit fire chief |

Guest opinion: We deserve answers about termination of North Summit fire chief

Scott Anderson
South Summit Fire District chief

Recently the North Summit Fire District Administrative Control Board petitioned the Summit County Council to terminate North Summit Fire Chief Ian Nelson. Which they did, and no reason was given. When asked why, the reply was that it is a private matter. What happened to government transparency? The only thing that anyone would say is that the reason was not criminal. Did he not take the commissioners to lunch? Did he not remember their birthday? Did he not hire their brother-in-law? Who knows? How are we as voters to know if the people in charge are using their authority in the best interest of the public when they will not justify their actions.

I have been in the fire service for over 45 years, so I think it’s fair to say I know a little bit about it. It is not like other businesses or even like other government entities or services. The people in it are not like most other employees or people. They have a strong desire to help others under very adverse conditions and do for them what they or others can’t or won’t do. I have known Chief Nelson for only a short time, a few years at best. However, in a sense I have also known him for a very long time. He is like most people in the fire service, law enforcement, emergency medical services and the military. He has a deep desire to serve the community along with his brothers and sisters in the fire service. He has high standards he is committed to doing the right thing for the right reason in any situation. Could it be that he did what a fire chief is supposed to do, stand up for his firefighters and the public? Could it be that he challenged those people with experience and insights they don’t have?

Overseeing a volunteer organization like a fire department definitely has many challenges that are not as prevalent in full-time departments or other businesses. He strived to make the department better able to service and protect the public and the community. He was dedicated and passionate about improving the level of service that his department was able to provide to the community. He fought for his firefighters to get better equipment, more and better training and more staffing. I have recently talked with some of the firefighters on NSFD and they are crushed by this action. They support his past actions and the way he has run the department. However, they are also fearful that if they speak out that they will be next.

Via Zoom, I have sat in on several of the NSFD board’s meetings. The beatings he endured in those meetings was certainly more than anyone should have put up with. I admire him and his dedication to the department. North Summit has lost a good man and a good leader in their fire department. My condolences to the department, the community and the people who live in North Summit.

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