Ariz. fire chief's exit leaves some scratching heads

Frank Morales, KPNX

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (KPNX) - Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said he does not know why he was asked to resign Friday, but he suggested a lack of communication between fire and city officials and a "severe state of flux" in the department may have been contributing factors.

Fraijo said in a Monday interview with The Arizona Republic that he and City Manager Craig McConnell had "very different management styles," but he and city officials declined to discuss in detail any disagreements they may have had before or after the traumatic Yarnell Hill Fire.

The fire chief predicted that the uncertainty facing the tight-knit department in the wake of the deaths of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots will worsen after his mid-November departure.

The sudden announcement of Fraijo's resignation came amid growing controversy at Prescott City Hall over the budgetary impact of union-supported firefighter pension funds on the city's budget and questions about overtime expenses incurred by the department on events surrounding the fire.

The City Council could act as soon as today on a contract calling for an outside firm to examine public-safety operations and management.

"I've got to figure out how to decompress," Fraijo, 70, said Monday. "I've been in situations that have been ... difficult. But I've never had to bury 19 people and had to deal with this kind of stuff. I don't think our fire station was ready for the enormous, traumatic event that just took place, and then three months later, for the fire chief -- whoever the fire chief is -- to be eliminated, and then at the same time be coming in with a major study on Fire Department services."



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