Fire chief resigns

Iola Fire Chief Chase Waggoner resigned but did not discuss his reasons why. However, he's frequently clashed with city and county officials.



August 13, 2021 - 3:45 PM

Chase Waggoner is Iola’s new fire chief. His first few weeks have been spent getting to know the city and department. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

Iola Fire Chief Chase Waggoner has resigned.

“It’s a good department with great guys,” Waggoner told the Register in a telephone interview. “It’s just sometimes a job is not a good fit for you.”

Waggoner’s brief tenure with the city included assorted dust-ups with city and county elected officials.

In April, Allen County commissioners grilled Waggoner about how the Harmony Health fire was handled, because Waggoner brought in Iola firefighters manning ambulance stations in Moran and Humboldt to help tackle the inferno, rather than calling in other personnel from surrounding departments.

Waggoner said he had done so because he was unfamiliar with the training levels of personnel from other departments. 

In June, Iola City Council members rejected Waggoner’s recommendation on a new fire truck after the city was awarded a Community Development Block Grant to replace one of its engines. 

The city has since asked vendors to rebid on the trucks.

Waggoner said there “was no particular reason” for his resignation, but acknowledged the ongoing ambulance contract talks with the county had been a stress.

For the past several years, the Iola Fire Department has been responsible for providing ambulance services for all of Allen County. 

County commissioners notified the city earlier this year it intended to let the ambulance agreement lapse, inviting Iola to rebid for the services.

The county has yet to decide whether to accept a bid from Iola, or from a private company.

Waggoner grew up in Lebanon, Mo., and had worked as fire chief in Girard fof four years, and had brief stints as city managers in Vidalia, Mo., and Williams, Ariz. He also worked in the private sector before coming to Iola.

IOLA CITY Administrator Matt Rehder said a search for Waggoner’s replacement will soon begin, but a new chief likely will not be appointed before the county decides whether to retain Iola as its EMS provider, which carries huge ramification on the size and scope of the Iola Fire Department.

In the interim, Iola’s deputy fire chiefs and lieutenants will oversee their respective shifts, Rehder said.

“We’re in constant contact with them every day,” Rehder said.

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