By Leigh Armstrong

The borough assembly voted to dissolve the board of advisors for the Skagway Fire Department, with advocates saying the board is no longer necessary.

The vote was 5-1 vote on Sept. 19. 

The board of advisors was set up as way of having oversight when Skagway had a volunteer fire chief and is no longer necessary, Assemblymember Dan Henry said. “I think this is pretty easy. The chief is running the department and he needs to run it unfettered,” Henry said. 

 “Through policy, I have to run everything through the board of advisors, which then goes to the assembly,” Fire Chief Joe Rau said. 

Assemblymember Jay Burnham, who voted against eliminating the board, said it offered an opportunity for the community to stay involved with the fire department’s work. 

Multiple members of the Skagway Fire Department attended the Sept. 19 meeting in support of eliminating the board, saying it hurt the effectiveness of Rau’s decisions and that the board met too infrequently to make any progress. 

With members of the Skagway Fire Department on the advisory board, the fire department members also said it violated chain of command. 

In order to have the fire department line up better with  police department practices, the borough assembly amended its action to require the borough manager’s approval for hiring of fire chief officers and assembly ratification of fire department policy changes.