Tuesday, April 23, 2013

UPDATE: Fire Chief Rich Brown retires, will get paid as 'consultant'

Posted By on Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 5:07 PM

The city has been in touch regarding Chief Brown’s current salary: It's $147,657.


Here we go again. Another department head, this time Fire Chief Rich Brown, is retiring, the City of Colorado Springs has announced in a news release.

Chief Rich Brown Waldo Canyon Fire
  • CSFD
  • Brown: Not going away empty-handed.

He's the latest in a long parade of top managers who have left since Mayor Steve Bach took office in June 2011. Others include former City Attorney Patricia Kelly, Economic Vitality chief Steve Cox and Budget Director Lisa Bigelow. All of them, as well as others, "retired," but were paid severance pay anyway, as we reported three weeks ago.

Brown was the chief when the Waldo Canyon Fire swept into the city on June 26 and destroyed 347 homes and killed two people. Management and oversight of the fire was called into question by firefighters and others, as reported in our cover story "Misfire," Dec. 12, 2012.

Even the city's own After Action Report, released April 3, pointed out lack of training at the command level. To read the report, go to springsgov.com and look under Hot Topics.

Notice the city says Brown will stay on as a consultant for several months. Those seem to be code words for "severance pay." The same phrase was used when Bach bounced Airport Director Mark Earle recently.

When we asked about severance pay, the city sent us an e-mail saying, "As stated in the release: Brown will remain with the City as a consultant until the end of the year - receiving his full salary and benefits."
So draw your own conclusion. We're not sure what his current salary, but in December 2011 after being named chief, it was $130,000 a year.

Chief Rich Brown Waldo Canyon Fire
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Brown, center, wearing a blue cap, watches his boss during a Waldo Canyon Fire news conference.

Here's the city's release:

Colorado Springs Fire Chief Richard Brown announced his retirement today after 32 years with the Colorado Springs Fire Department. Chief Brown worked his way up through the ranks as firefighter, paramedic, Lieutenant, Captain and Battalion Chief, to Deputy Chief of Operations. Throughout his career he was assigned to the Operations Division, Medical Division and Training Division. Whether it was manning a fire hose or guiding the department - from the Red Tag Explosion in 1986, to the Blizzard of ’97, to Castle West in 2007, to the Waldo Canyon Fire - Chief Rich Brown has served during some of the community’s worst disasters.

“Fire Chief Rich Brown is truly a legend in our region for his bravery, courage and leadership as a firefighter for the City. During my term he has also served as an instrumental member of our City Executive Team. Chief Brown set a very high standard for himself and his department, earning a prestigious national honor. He was an innovator, creating numerous community service programs, including neighborhood free health clinics in our fire stations. Chief Brown has my deepest respect and appreciation for his long, distinguished service to the citizens of Colorado Springs. He will continue to provide us with important consulting help for several months. We will be naming an Interim Fire Chief by the Chief’s April 30 retirement date and will subsequently conduct a national search for his successor, “ said Mayor Steve Bach.

“I am honored to have served in every capacity that I have and did my best every day. I’m very pleased that the CSFD is now Internationally Accredited. I believe we are on the right track exploring the options that are out there with respect to ambulance contracts and that will only serve the community better. We have a great department that looks to serve our citizens in the best possible way,” said Chief Brown

Rich Brown holds a Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership from Regis University. Brown will remain with the City as a consultant until the end of the year - receiving his full salary and benefits.

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