Brand new Northern Arizona fire district board already at odds

Hard feelings over chief’s forced departure divide members

KINGMAN – The Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District Governing Board appointed Jason Scott as interim fire chief during a tense meeting Thursday night.

Scott, a battalion chief who was covering a shift at Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire Department in Dolan Springs and not at the meeting, was selected to fill the vacancy that will be left by current NACFD Chief Pat Moore, who resigned Nov. 21. Scott will take the helm Dec. 30. He said he was offered the position before Moore was appointed in 2009, but declined due to the political warfare at that time.

“We’re in a great financial state and (I’m) in a better position to take over now,” said Scott. “It’ll be good.”

Moore said in a separate interview that the board has conflicting ideas for the future of NACFD and he’s well aware of the shaky board politics. He decided to resign quietly and take some time off to figure out his next move.

“I believe the time has come for this organization be led by someone else,” he said during the November board meeting. “I also concur that it’s probably time for me to personally and professionally do something different.”

Three battalion chiefs were slated to fill the spot: BDon Dallman, Tim King and Scott. The board mulled over who to choose. They decided Dallman was disqualified due to his permanent residence being in Las Vegas. When King was asked if he wanted the position, his response was a subtle “no, no, thank you.” That left Scott, who was promptly nominated. He’ll have to select his replacement as battalion chief.

The board showed instability as nominations for a new board chairman were tossed around like a hot potato. Director Vic Riccardi hounded the other members to accept the position. He started on Board Clerk Mike Collins first. Collins declined due to business and family conflicts, to which Riccardi pleaded with him to accept the position periodically until a more suitable member could take the position.

“Or is it you just don’t want to do it,” he asked of Collins.

“No. I feel as board members, we all have a responsibility to serve at some point,” Collins said.

Jim Baily, already the chairman for six years, cited personal verbal attacks at past meetings and displeasure with the other board members as his reason for not jumping in the seat.

“There were a bunch of things being said that the direction this board was going to take was to terminate our chief,” he said. “Collectively, the four of you are the reason we’re losing our chief, collectively between the three of you, you need to find a new chairman, new secretary and new chief.”

Riccardi didn’t feel the same. Baily declined to take on extra board duties. Collins told Riccardi he should use his years of experience to chair the board. Riccardi slowly became irate.

“It isn’t the experience. I’m 81-years-old,” he said. “I’m also getting kind of tired of everything.”

For nearly three minutes, Collins had do defend himself against Riccardi’s push to take the chairman position.

“At this point, it’s about time constraints. It has nothing to do with what’s going on with the board,” Collins said. “I’m hoping we can move forward and be productive.”

Riccardi launched into a tirade and was called out of order at one point.

“There are problems moving forward and being productive,” he said. “This is a very serious thing.”

Board member Patty Lewis was ultimately nominated as chairwoman of the NACFD Governing Board.

Sue Wilkin, the newest board member (replacing Erik Berg), had the extracurricular duty of board clerk dumped in her lap.

The district is responsible for emergency services in and around Butler, North Stockton Hill Road, Chloride, Valle Vista, Hackberry and Truxton.

“Basically, everything north of Gordon (Drive) up to the Hualapai Reservation,” Moore said.

Moore’s resignation has prompted fears NACFD will falter.