MISSOULA (AP) - Fire Chief Bob Deeds has resigned effective Dec.
31, ending 3 years of tumultuous relations with the city's
firefighters.
Deeds submitted his resignation, a two-sentence letter, on
Monday and declined to discuss his action Tuesday when it became
public.
Because of accrued vacation time, Deeds is expected to leave
office at the end of October.
"The tension that existed in the department had something to do
with the resignation," Mayor Mike Kadas said. "But he's the one
who submitted the resignation."
Kadas would not say if he asked Deeds to resign, saying further
details were private personnel matters.
International Association of Firefighters Local 271 Union
President Jason Diehl said the union supports Deeds' decision to
step down.
"We hope this will resolve the tensions and conflicts that we
had," Diehl said. "Morale kept sinking lower and lower around
here."
The firefighters sent a letter of no confidence to Deeds a year
ago. It said members "lack confidence in your ability to
effectively manage and lead this department."
It cited reasons of "low morale, stemming from your biased,
disparaging, hostile and intimidating management style," among
other things.
Diehl said he had no indication Deeds' resignation was imminent.
Deeds came to Missoula in 1998. He replaced Chuck Gibson, who
had been with the department for 39 years and chief since 1987.
Deeds was previously deputy chief of the fire department in Boise,
Idaho.
His departure follows that of Earl Hall, the Missoula
department's assistant fire chief. He retired in September and the
city is doing an in-house search for a new assistant chief.
"We will appoint an acting chief until the assistant chief
position is filled," Kadas said. "We'll probably have that person
be the acting chief. But recruiting for the chief position will be
a longer process. We'll have to open it up regionally. I would not
expect us to get it filled until February or March."
Deeds was paid about $65,000 a year, Kadas said.
He supervised 72 firefighters and a handful of office staff,
with a budget of more than $4 million a year.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)