Chief out at Grand Lake Fire
Board president confirms Ratzmann no longer works for department
Grand Lake Fire and Chief Kevin Ratzmann have split ways with the chief no longer working for the department.
On Thursday, fire board president David Craig confirmed that Ratzmann’s last day with the department was Dec. 11. That means that Ratzmann will not return to Grand Lake Fire after being put on paid administrative leave this November.
Reasons for the chief being put on leave were not disclosed last month, and it’s not clear how the chief and the board are working out Ratzmann’s exit now.
“All I can say is that Kevin Ratzmann is no longer employed by the Grand Lake Fire Protection District,” Craig said, explaining that he was not in a position to discuss personnel matters because of department policy.
Reached over the phone, Ratzmann said the terms of his departure are still being negotiated, and he also declined to comment further on the matter at this time.
“Officially, we’re still negotiating that with the attorneys so I don’t think I can characterize (my departure) either,” Ratzmann said.
As for leadership at Grand Lake Fire, Craig said Assistant Chief Seth St. Germain has stepped into the role of acting chief, and Craig praised Germain for his work during the department’s change in leadership.
“In my estimation, he’s doing a wonderful job as evidenced by his watching expenses, as evidenced by his working with other first responding community leaders and as evidenced by team morale,” Craig said.
By almost any measure, it’s been a trying year for the chief and the department. Over the summer, Grand Lake Fire fought to curtail budget concerns by freezing hiring, limiting department spending and nixing overtime.
In September, Ratmann’s wife, Melissa Ratzmann, who also worked at Grand Lake Fire, died of a stroke. Then Grand Lake Fire faced the largest fire in county history as the East Troublesome Fire grew more than a 100,000 acres over 24 hours and threatened the town of Grand Lake in October.
Ratzmann said he is extremely proud of the department’s accomplishments during his tenure as chief, including boosting Grand Lake Fire’s ambulance and EMS response capabilities, upgrading old equipment and engines at the department, and their work to save Grand Lake during the East Troublesome Fire.
Ratzmann described the Troublesome fire as a major moment for the department and for him personally, as he has worked as a firefighter for 22 years and had to call on every bit of his experience that night.
“Through my leadership and experience, we were able to basically save the town of Grand Lake, and the majority of Columbine (neighborhood), and all that, so it was really a crowning achievement,” Ratzmann said. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve brought an influx of paramedics, I’ve upgraded equipment that hasn’t been upgraded for 20 years, and I brought in $1.5 million of income … The list of achievements could go on for pages.”
Looking forward, Ratzmann plans to continue working as a firefighter, though he said he isn’t sure where his career might take him at this moment.
“I’ve served this community to the best of my ability and I am proud of what I’ve done in this community,” Ratzmann said, later adding that he’s only 42 years old and still has a lot of years fighting fires left in him.
Craig expects the board to address the process for identifying a new fire chief when the board members meet in January.
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