During a meeting of the Wood River Fire District commissioners last Thursday, they unanimously voted to offer Interim Fire Chief Ron Bateman the Wood River Fire & Rescue Fire Chief position.

     Bateman hails from a 10-year position as the fire chief of the Miliken Fire Protection District, the Johnstown Fire Protection District and the Front Range Fire Rescue in the front range of Colorado. He took on the position of interim chief on Sept. 30, to step in after longtime Chief Bart Lassman’s retirement on Oct. 3. This is his 22nd year in the fire service, and initially Bateman had intentions of retiring following the interim.

     “I absolutely thought I had called it a fire service career on July 1st of this year. I was very proud of what I had been a part of in more than two decades of service and was ready to move on to the next thing … teaching, consulting, you name it,” Bateman said. “I had no idea that my path would lead me back to the fire service or here to the Wood River Valley. I am excited and thankful for the opportunity.”

     In an email sent to Wood River Fire & Rescue staff on Friday, Bateman said he was swayed by the continuous optimism that the staff and commissioners see for the organization.

     “There’s an unspoken, but unmistakable language of optimism that I’ve heard in these past 10 weeks. You believe in a better version of the WRFR. … I am here because you convinced me to believe, too.”

     Bateman holds a bachelor’s degree from Indian University in English and Economics and a master’s degree from Gonzaga University in Organizational Leadership. He started his career in Bloomington, Ind., in 1998.

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