Updated: Apr 1
MOUND CITY – Linn County Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Doug Barlet announced his retirement on Monday, March 14, at the Linn County Commission meeting. Barlet said that after about 15 years managing both departments, he intends to retire on July 1.
“I am both happy and a bit saddened to inform you that I have made the decision to announce my retirement as the Fire Chief/Emergency Manager for Linn County,” Barlet read from a prepared statement. “I have served the citizens of Linn County for nearly 15 years in this position which I believe makes me the longest serving fire chief for the department since it was organized in its current format.”
He said that during his tenure, the department has been able to accomplish many things. Fire and Emergency Management have brought in nearly $2 million in grant funds and saved more than $1.5 million in budgeted funds that were transferred into the department’s special equipment account.
Those additional saved funds were used to purchase five new brush trucks, several used engines, and most recently, we purchased the two new engines for $700,000 with those saved funds, he added.
In a message aimed toward the volunteers with the department, Barlet said, “These savings were possible in part, due to the exceptional work of you, the volunteer firefighters, and all your efforts. I cannot thank each of you enough for the work you have done and continue to do each and every day to support me, the department, county, and our citizens we serve.
“It has been an honor to serve as your Fire Chief & Emergency Manager. I wish each of you and your families the very best. I appreciate your support, dedication, and all your donated time serving the citizens of this County and those who travel through our County. I would like to encourage each of you to continue doing what you do for the Fire District."
He went on to say that the savings were due, in part, to the exceptional work of the volunteer fire fighters and all of their efforts. He thanked the staff, the volunteer firefighters, the fire board and the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) for the work they have done.
Barlet did say that, if it does not interfere with his Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) retirement benefits, he would be willing to stay on as a volunteer at station 920. He said he talked to the captain, and he is willing to recommend allowing me to do that if the commission approves.
Commissioner Rick James said, “Thank you Doug, I appreciate all the service you have given to the county and hopefully we will find a replacement.”
Later in the American Medical Response (AMR) report, Galen Anderson said, “To comment on Doug retiring, it’s been a really good partnership with Doug and the fire service, Doug’s been really proactive with getting in touch with us if there is any interagency thing to improve upon or just necessary communication.
We have had a lot regarding coordinating helicopters and landing zones, things like that that he has been proactive. It’s been a good open ended line of communication. I hope we will have that as well with the new agency. All of the three first responding entities in the county, fire, law enforcement, and EMS just work really well together and our crews really appreciate them when they are on scene. They work well together. It’s been a good relationship. We wish him well.”
In an interview Tuesday with Linn County Fire Board of Trustees Chair Don Proffit about Barlet leaving, he said, “I hate to see him go. I think he’s done an awesome job. He’s brought the fire department a long, long way.”
Profitt said that Barlett and Assistant Fire Chief Dee Horttor both go beyond the requirements of their jobs in making sure the department and the individual fire stations run efficiently. He also credited Barlet with substantially improving equipment that the firefighters use.
When asked if the fire board would be involved in the hiring of a new fire chief, Profitt said that he thought the fire board should at least help interview. The former county clerk, he said that in the past a job like that was posted to employees first, so that any employee who was qualified was interviewed first.