Camas terminates employment of fire chief

Leo Leon was hired in 2005

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The city of Camas has fired its fire chief.

Mayor Paul Dennis confirmed by phone this afternoon that Fire Chief Leo Leon’s employment with the city will be terminated effective Jan. 31. According to a press release, the decision was made because Leon’s “leadership of the Camas Fire Department has not been meeting expectations.”

“I appreciated that Leo accepted the position six years ago, and he accomplished much — especially in the first several years,” said City Administrator Lloyd Halverson. “More recently, there have been setbacks, confidence has been lost, and now it is time for a change in the leadership of the fire department. Mayor Dennis as the appointing authority has acted decisively, and now it is time to focus on the future.”

Leon will receive three months severance pay and health benefits, which fulfills the terms of the his 2005 employment contract. Leon’s current annual salary is $120,092. He has agreed not to appeal the decision.

When contacted by phone today, Leon said Dennis and Halverson told him on Monday that “they came to the decision that they no longer wanted me here.” Leon said he refused to resign, so he was instead fired.

He said he did not want to elaborate on the situation further while still employed with the city.

Leon began working as the city’s fire chief in January 2005, following the retirement of former chief Dave Artz in February 2004. Leon, who has been working in the emergency services field for a total of nearly 40 years, primarily in California, was selected from an initial pool of nearly 40 candidates.

The search for Leon’s permanent replacement will begin immediately, and is expected to take 90 to 120 days. Filling-in in the interim will be Monte Brachmann, the city’s former public works director who retired after 37 years in March 2010. He served for 25 years as a CFD volunteer firefighter.

“I am pleased that Monte Brachmann will be re-joining the Camas leadership team,” Dennis said. “He is a proven and effective manager, well known to our City Council, fire department and staff, and the community.”

The mayor said Brachmann will be a temporary employee of the city. He will be paid approximately $9,000 per month — mid-range salary for a fire chief under the city’s step system.

Additional details on this breaking news story will be provided in the Feb. 1 print edition of the Post-Record.