Upper Pine River fire chief resigns

Rich Graeber takes job with international firm

Upper Pine River Fire Protection District Fire Chief Rich Graeber has resigned to pursue an opportunity with Dräger – an international company that makes fire-protection equipment.

He has worked with the Upper Pine River for 12 years and is working in a contractual position as their senior fire-simulator instructor.

Graeber has been with the district for seven years. Deputy Chief Bruce Evans will be acting fire chief for the next six months before a search for a new chief is conducted.

The district would not release details about his severance package, claiming it is a personnel matter. An open record records was filed, but lawyers did not respond by press time.

Graeber hopes to continue working with Upper Pine in a contractual role and assist the mitigation crew by working with homeowners on planning where mitigation needs to happen and outlining work for the crew, he said.

The fire district and Graeber are still working out the details of his role with the 11-person mitigation crew, which was established through grants the district received. It did work to limit fire hazard around homes on about 300 acres last year.

“Graeber’s work on that was exceptional, and he probably established some best practices in many cases,” Evans said.

Graeber worked until June 14.

In other personnel changes, Craig Goodell – a fire-mitigation and education specialist at the San Juan Public Lands Office – has been promoted within the Bureau of Land Management to fire ecologist for the state of Oregon and Washington.

Goodell has been with the San Juan office, part of the BLM, since 1986 and will remain in his current role until mid-August.