Former Cabinet View Fire Chief Calls For End to ‘Bitterness’

By Beacon Staff

A month after the Lincoln County commissioners dissolved the Cabinet View Fire Service Area, former fire chief Dan Leavell said it is time to move on.

The Cabinet View Fire Department closed earlier this summer after being shut down. The volunteer department and county officials had been in a year-long dispute about whether the department had the ability to respond to calls beyond structure fires. Leavell said his volunteers had the training to do so, but the county said they weren’t licensed.

Lincoln County commissioners placed much of the blame for the conflict on Leavell and the department’s leadership.

“At (a June) public hearing, Lincoln County heard support for CVFSA’s good, hard-working volunteers, but also heard overwhelming concern with CVFSA’s leadership who refused to comply with Montana law, failed to work cooperatively with other emergency service providers, and refused to comply with Lincoln County’s requests,” the commissioners wrote in an August press release.

Leavell has since apologized, saying he was only doing what he thought was best for his department and community. On Aug. 31, he published a letter to the editor in the Western News in Libby.

“It has to end. The bitterness, the fighting, it has got to end and I ended it for me. I can only speak for myself,” Leavell said in an interview last week.

Leavell had managed the department for six years. Since the department’s closure last month, Leavell said he has tried to step back from the conflict and is currently looking for a new job.

“The majority of the firefighters are good, hardworking people and they just wanted to serve the community…. For them, I wish them the best and hope that they can continue to serve,” he said. “Maybe with me gone there will be opportunity for them.”

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