Red, White and Blue fire chief Lori Miller to retire |

Red, White and Blue fire chief Lori Miller to retire

Caddie Nath
summit daily news

Special to the DailyLori Miller

Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District Boardmember Jim Keating will be taking over as fire chief later this year ahead of current chief Lori Miller’s retirement in December.

Keating is set to take the reins as interim chief Nov. 1.

With a possible merger between Red, White and Blue and Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue on the horizon, district officials are holding off hiring a permanent chief until the department’s future is more certain.

“We’re in the middle of this thing and they don’t want to hire a chief that may be short-term,” Red, White and Blue spokesman Jay Nelson said.

Keating will step down from his post as board director to take on the new role.

He said he doesn’t plan to make any major changes to the department before an upcoming evaluation of the potential merger.

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“The idea right now is to keep stability within the department while we continue to look at the consolidation issue,” Keating said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do if we do consolidate, and my goal is to follow what Lori’s put in place.”

If the two fire districts do merge, both may be brought under the management of a single fire chief and a single board of directors.

If officials decide to maintain two separate districts, Red, White and Blue will conduct a national search for a new chief.

The merger evaluation is set to take place early next year.

Keating, who has 34 years of fire experience, is coming out of retirement himself to take over the post. He was a fire chief for 23 years and held various leadership positions at the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office.

“In addition to his extensive background in fire and emergency services, Jim has led and participated in numerous consolidation efforts involving other departments, and this experience will be invaluable to the district as we engage in ongoing talks with Lake Dillon Fire District regarding consolidation,” RWB board president Randy Griffin stated in a recent release from the district.

With property tax revenues, the mainstay of local fire districts’ budgets, still in decline, Keating inherits a department with an already tight belt.

He said he should be able to continue current service levels under the existing budget as chief.

“We’re pretty firm in the belief that if we really watch our spending and are careful about any additions, we’ll probably be able to hold the line,” Keating said. “We’re pretty confident that we can continue to provide the services we’re doing today.”

Miller will officially retire Dec. 31 from the department.

She was on the brink of retirement in May 2011, when former Red, White and Blue fire chief Gary Green resigned and she was selected to take his place, becoming the first female fire chief of an all-professional fire department in the state of Colorado. Miller took the top job after eight years with Red, White and Blue and captained the department to national accreditation earlier this year.

“I feel very fortunate to have had an amazing career, and to have worked with some of the finest people around,” Miller stated in the release. “I know director Keating will provide excellent leadership to the staff and community of the Red, White and Blue Fire District.”

Miller has been a firefighter for 27 years.