FIRE

Berett Wilber/KUCB

Unalaska should split its Department of Public Safety to create a standalone fire department separate from the police force.

At least, that's the recommendation City Manager Thomas E. Thomas made to the City Council on Tuesday, hoping to settle a longstanding debate over how to improve retention and morale.

Thomas said putting the fire chief on equal footing with the police chief will be "critical" for the future success of the fire division — and his ability to oversee it.

Berett Wilber/KUCB

Almost six months ago, the Unalaska City Council agreed to suspend the search for a new director of public safety.

The plan was to wait until councilors had settled a longtime debate over restructuring the department and its leadership team.

Now, Vice Mayor Dennis Robinson said they've been on hold for too long.

Berett Wilber/KUCB

An Illinois man hired as Unalaska's fire chief last year has been sentenced to 36 years in prison.

David "D.J." Dunn was convicted of drugging and raping a subordinate at his going-away party last spring — days before he was scheduled to leave his job as a Savoy, Illinois first responder and move to the island.

City officials fired the 44-year-old after his arrest, but he was briefly on Unalaska's payroll.

Zoë Sobel / KUCB

The Department of Public Safety has a familiar face in a new role. Ramona Thompson took over as fire chief on March 12.

Thompson has over 35 years of fire and EMS experience including 11 years as the EMS coordinator at the department of public safety. Most recently she worked as the Director of Clinical Services at the Iliuliuk Family Health Services Clinic.

KUCB's Zoë Sobel sat down with Thompson who says she decided to apply for the job now because she saw how much the community has struggled to hold on to a fire chief.

 

Zoë Sobel/KUCB

Unalaska’s Fire Chief says he was forced to resign Friday and less than 24 hours later put on a plane to the Lower 48.

“I basically was given the door and right before Christmas, too,” Arlie Colvin said at the airport. “If I did not resign, they were going to not give me one penny, no ticket out of here, and [I'd have to] be out of my apartment by [Dec.] 31st. I didn’t have no more than $15 to my name because I’m helping to pay for stuff back home.”

Colvin believes he was pushed out by Public Safety Director Mike Holman while the interim city manager was out of town.

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