Homer Volunteer Fire Department Chief Terry Kadel is no longer with the department, Homer City Manager Katie Koester said in a statement released Wednesday.
“I want to thank Chief Kadel for his service to Homer,” Koester wrote in the release. “We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Koester said she couldn’t confirm why Kadel left city employment and if he had been fired or resigned. She is prevented from discussing it because it’s a personnel matter, she said. In response to a request for comment by the Homer News, Kadel did not return voice mail messages left on his cell phone on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Koester appointed Dan Miotke, a 17-year veteran, as Acting Assistant Chief. Miotke will be in charge of operations until the city appoints an interim chief. Koester said the city will seek an interim chief to run the department while it “launches a robust national search for a permanent fire chief,” according to the press release.
“I am personally committed to casting a wide net and recruiting aggressively for a permanent chief position that fits the needs of the department and maintains the high level of safety services that our dedicated staff and volunteer corps provides,” Koester said in the statement.
The city will also seek to fill an assistant fire chief position made vacant when Kadel moved up to take over as chief when Bob Painter retired in early 2018. Kadel came to work for the Homer Volunteer Fire Department in September 2017 as assistant chief. Koester said the city has been actively recruiting for the assistant fire chief position. The application period for that job closes Dec. 15. The assistant chief position had been funded under a grant, but is now a full-time, permanent position in the 2019 city budget.
In an email, Koester said the city will hire temporary employees to cover shifts, just it does in the summer or other busy times. The staff and volunteers are capable of fulfilling the mission of the department, she said.
Koester said she met Tuesday with HVFD volunteers to solicit feedback on the department’s leadership needs and discuss the plan for moving forward.
“The volunteers are the heart of the department, and this community depends on them for a wide variety of life and property saving services, from emergency medical attention during transport to the hospital at 2 a.m., to putting out a brush fire gone awry,” Koester wrote in the press release. “I would like to thank them for their dedication to Homer.”
When asked about the concerns of the staff and volunteers in keeping the department going, Koester said, “Their concern is for long-term leadership that can take the department into the next 10 to 20 years, and I am committed to working with them in finding that leadership team.”
Kadel came to Homer from the Girdwood Fire Department, where he spent 20 years. He began there as a volunteer before eventually being promoted to Girdwood’s deputy chief in 2001.
Kadel attended both the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Alaska Anchorage, and has a bachelor’s degree in primary education. He moved with his family to Alaska in 1977 when his father was transferred to the state as part of his job with Standard Oil, which would later be bought by BP. Kadel went to elementary school in Chugiak and graduated from Chugiak High School.
Reach Michael Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org. Megan Pacer contributed to this report.