SundayPosted Apr 30, 2017 at 3:02 PM Updated Apr 30, 2017 at 8:51 PM
By Susan Vela
BELVIDERE — Brad Bartell’s ouster as chief of Boone County Fire Protection District 2 has riled up some volunteer firefighters, who are protesting the decision.
Several of the district’s approximately 45 volunteer firefighters showed up at a recent Boone County Board meeting to protest the trustees’ March 6 decision to replace Bartell, who also serves as Boone County Emergency Management Agency coordinator.
Trustees cited a string of allegations against Bartell, including accusations of mismanagement, missing equipment and not following proper protocols, according to a 40-point itemized list of complaints acquired from the trustees through the firefighters’ Freedom of Information request.
“It’s a laundry list of B.S. essentially that’s under-investigated,” said Brent Bryan, treasurer with the Boone County Fire District 2 Firefighters Association. “Brad Bartell was a great chief that had the firefighters, taxpayers and District 2 residents’ best interests at heart.”
He and others from the district plan to reiterate their protests and suggest policy changes that include a multi-step process for letting go firefighters during a 7 p.m. Monday meeting at the district office, 1777 Henry Luckow Lane.
Bryan said Bartell has served as the district’s chief for less than five years. He has been with the fire department for more than two decades.
Neither Bartell nor trustees Jack Ryan, Kevin Stark and Jim Marrs returned calls for this story. Bob Koehn, who served as deputy chief before replacing Bartell, declined comment.
County Board members appoint trustees. Bryan would like voters to elect them.
“That’s fine,” Board Chairman Karl Johnson said. “I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t have a problem with them going from three to five trustees.”
Bryan said he has asked Boone County State’s Attorney Tricia Smith to investigate the allegations made against Bartell. Smith said it’s the responsibility of the Boone County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the matter first.