Rodeo-Hercules fire district fires chief

Gary Boyles has been fired as chief of the San Francisco bay area Rodeo-Hercules fire district, at least in part because he advocated the use of the Pack Test, or Work Capacity Test, for his firefighters that respond with strike teams to interagency wildland fires.

The pack test requires that a person carry a 45-pound pack for three miles in less than 45 minutes and is a standard test used by federal land management agency firefighters and many other organizations. As Wildfire Today reported on June 25, a firefighters union has opposed the use of the pack test in favor of the Candidate Physical Ability Test, which in part involves a treadmill and is used by some fire departments in California. The union has been campaigning for the Chief’s dismissal for several months.

The fire district board reached their decision to fire Chief Boyles in a closed door meeting that lasted late into the night on Thursday. The Chief will retire on June 30 but will continue to be a district employee with no duties until June 2011 when he will complete 10 years of employment and be eligible for their retirement system. During the next two years he will receive one year’s salary of $162,180.

In a related matter, the fire district board censured board member Bill Prather for his February comments about five-foot-2 women being unqualified to be firefighters. The censure resolution, approved 4-0 by board members, bars Mr. Prather from attending board meetings for 4 months.