Harrison Abruptly Departs Less Than A Year Into Tenure At AVFD

In a move the reasons for which are too opaque to assimilate, the Apple Valley Fire Protection District and Fire Chief Ken Harrison have parted ways, less than a year after he was installed in that position following an impressive firefighting career in Orange County.
It was previously thought that the 56-year-old Harrison would remain as the head of the Apple Valley Fire Department until he reached the age of 60. He was brought in last year to replace former Fire Chief Lorenzo Gigliotti. 
While lavishing recognition upon the professionalism and competence of the crews he oversaw, Harrison hinted at but was not explicit about shortcomings with the attitude and direction of the fire district’s board. It was unclear what issues led to Harrison’s departure. Because of rules of confidentiality relating to governmental agency personnel decisions and action, no explicit explanation was given as to who or what is at the basis of Harrison’s departure. 
At the time of Harrison’s arrival in June of last year, Sid Hultquist, then an Apple Valley Fire Protection District board member and now the board present, was enthusiastic about Harrison’s hiring. Harrison, who was previously employed with the Carlsbad Fire Department, Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District and Riverside City Fire Department, at the time of his hiring was a battalion chief with the Orange County Fire Authority with an office in Irvine and an assignment overseeing the aircraft rescue program at John Wayne Airport. In 2019, he had been offered, but ultimately did not accept, the position of fire chief in South Lake Tahoe. Hultquist is an experienced firefighting professional himself, having recently served as fire chief in Barstow. 
Word is that it was Harrison’s discontent with the district rather than the other way around which brought him and the district to this crossroads. Something mentioned was a philosophy clash between the board and the chief. It is not clear if Harrison included Hultquist among those he was at odds with.
On June 4, the board held a special meeting in which discussion items listed on the meeting agenda related to consulting services with Eide Bailly in open session and a public employee performance evaluation of Harrison together with possible anticipated litigation in a closed session. It is not clear whether that litigation related to Harrison. Reportedly, during that meeting Harrison told the board he was contemplating resigning as chief. In response, the board placed him on paid non-disciplinary administrative leave.
The board then scheduled another special meeting for June 8, at which the only items on the agenda pertained to Harrison’s “performance evaluation,” his possible “discipline/dismissal/release” and a “public employee appointment,” apparently a reference to the appointing of a replacement acting or interim chief.
The meeting concluded with Harrison’s departure being formally confirmed and the board advancing Buddy Peratt to replace Harrison on an interim basis. 

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