Fayette City Council rejects Fire Department’s pick for Chief for 2nd time

Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 11:18 PM CST
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FAYETTE, Iowa (KCRG) - Fayette is without a chief for its Fire Department, even after the Department recommended someone not once, but twice. Both times, City Council has rejected the firefighters’ choice.

The process works by the Fire Department making a recommendation, which is then considered and voted on by City Council. Jan. 3 is the first time the recommendation to appoint Jason Rohde, who’s been the Fire Chief for the last decade, was met by silence at a City Council meeting. The same thing happened at Monday night’s meeting.

Mayor Kurt Wood said City Council is looking to move the Fire Department in a new direction, one in which hopefully the number of volunteers grows.

“I know there’s a concern on my part and the part of City Council on the number of people we have,” said Mayor Wood. “There is a concern about the future direction.”

He would not comment on Rohde specifically. “I’m not at liberty to discuss that,” said Wood.

TV9 spoke to Rohde on the phone ahead of Monday night’s meeting. He said he thought he wasn’t getting the backing of City Council because of “perceived personnel problems.”

TV9 caught up with members of the Fire Department after the meeting. None agreed to an on-camera interview, but they said they don’t know why Rohde is being rejected and claimed there has been no communication from City Council. When asked why no one spoke during the public comment portion of Monday’s City Council meeting, one person said, “They would have shot us down anyways.” Another added, “You have to know your time and place.”

Right now, the Fire Department only has nine volunteer firefighters.

“We have an aging demographic, we also have a declining demographic,” Wood said about Fayette, but it’s clear the Council doesn’t want the long-time firefighter to be a part of a long-term solution.