After a widely-questioned dismissal a few months ago, Jenn Walsh has been hired back to the Haines Volunteer Fire Department.
Interim Borough Manager Brad Ryan said Wednesday that Walsh was hired as an EMT/firefighter. Historically, the largely volunteer department has had two paid positions: Firefighter/training officer and EMT/firefighter. Walsh started out in the EMT/firefighter job, and was hired to the training officer position in August after longtime employee Al Badgley’s retirement.
In February, Walsh was unexpectedly let go. Ryan said at the time that the borough had chosen not to extend Walsh’s contract beyond the six-month probationary period. Walsh said no specifics were given for her dismissal.
At a February borough assembly meeting, several people spoke out against the decision to dismiss Walsh. Fire department volunteer Meghan Elliot was one of them.
“This has left the volunteers without our leader. Our EMS will suffer without our training officer,” Elliot said.
Ryan said Wednesday that Walsh was hired back as an EMT/firefighter, not as training officer. Kyle Fossman is also employed as an EMT/firefighter, but Ryan said he is leaving the department at the end of May. Ryan did not say why Walsh was hired for the EMT/firefighter job instead of the training officer position.
“Well, the trainer could be contracted or it could be a volunteer,” Ryan said. “But right now we don’t necessarily have to have a trainer. We have two EMT/firefighters instead of a firefighter/trainer.”
Walsh’s first day back at the fire department is May 2. She could not be reached for comment by deadline for this report.