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The North Summit Fire Chief is out, with no reason given

The North Summit Fire District Coalville station
Alexander Cramer

The Summit County Council on Monday fired North Summit Fire District Chief Ian Nelson. Councilors offered no explanation, but said the move was done “for cause.”

Fewer than 18 months after he was hired, North Summit Fire District Chief Ian Nelson has been fired by the Summit County Council. Councilors gave no reason for the decision, which was made official by unanimous vote Monday afternoon.

Nelson declined to comment when reached by KPCW.

A handful of the ousted chief’s supporters attended the meeting, but there was no official opportunity for them to speak.

The North Summit Fire District is staffed with volunteer firefighters and covers Coalville, Henefer and other communities in northeastern Summit County in a territory that stretches to the Wyoming border. Nelson’s position was part-time.

The Summit County Council is the district’s governing body in an arrangement similar to the one it has with other entities like Basin Recreation and the Park City Fire District.

Councilor Chris Robinson said the council was accepting and acting upon a recommendation it received from the North Summit Fire District Administrative Control board.

Summit County Manager Tom Fisher said Assistant Chief Brandt Judd would be named interim chief until a full-time replacement is found. Judd stepped into the same role when former Chief Ken Smith retired last summer.

Councilors fired Nelson “for cause,” which means he will not be eligible for severance pay, according to his employment contract. The Council met on Saturday — a rarity — to discuss personnel issues in closed session.

Fisher said the Saturday session was scheduled to allow the council to act upon the recommendation before Thanksgiving.

“The board and council wanted to act sooner rather than later, and council needed to ratify their decision in an open meeting,” Fisher said.

Fisher and county councilors would not say why Nelson was fired.

Nelson is suing a previous employer, Morgan County, for wrongful termination. The lawsuit claims his firing there was retribution for his cooperation with a State Auditor investigation.

Alexander joined KPCW in 2021 after two years reporting on Summit County for The Park Record. While there, he won many awards for covering issues ranging from school curriculum to East Side legacy agriculture operations to land-use disputes. He arrived in Utah by way of Madison, Wisconsin, and western Massachusetts, with stints living in other areas across the country and world. When not attending a public meeting or trying to figure out what a PID is, Alexander enjoys skiing, reading and watching the Celtics.