TULSA - Broken Arrow Fire Chief Jeff Van Dolah has announced he will leave the department, effective April 19.
He tells KRMG the decision to hang up his helmet was a tough one, but he has an opportunity to work with a private company as a fire investigator and the job was too good to turn down.
"For 29 years I've been a public servant and that's a big part of my life, and I've loved that," he told KRMG. "But on the other hand this is something that comes late in my career that is just one of those opportunities I couldn't turn down."
He added "there is some bittersweetness to it, there's some mixed emotions about me walking away. I've had a great career, both the Tulsa Fire Department and the Broken Arrow Fire Department have treated me really good, it's really tough to walk away from."
Van Dolah served with BAFD for about 11 1/2 years, then spent another 16 years with TFD before coming back to Broken Arrow as chief two years ago.
In a statement sent to KRMG, City Manager Thom Moton said “In Jeff’s short time as chief, he has made a significant and positive impact on the fire service and others at the city. I will miss his reasoned approach to problem solving, fire service expertise and wonderful personality.”
The statement listed some of Van Dolah's achievements during his short tenure as chief:
Hiring 24 new members for the department. Filled several key staff positions that involved the selection of an Assistant Fire Chief who brought a vast array of technical fire expertise and shared his leadership characteristics. Responsible for a successful ISO audit that allowed the city to retain a rating of “2” Supervised the construction of Station No. 2 as well as a five story drill tower at the public safety training center. Helped modernize the fire department fleet by purchasing a new pumper truck, three new ambulances, a Battalion Chief and a Fire Investigator vehicle. Installation of mobile data computers in all fire department apparatus. Promoted intra-agency cooperation with other city departments Helped establish Broken Arrow’s first written mutual aid agreement with the City of Tulsa Fire Department.
Asked about his new job, he declined to name the company but did say he would investigate fires for a private insurance firm.
"It was a good opportunity, working with people that I know and have had a relationship with through the National Fire Academy, I've taught some classes there for the past ten or twelve years. It did just kind of come along unexpectedly, but it was something that I just thought it was time to make a move.
"Had a lot of regrets leaving the City of Broken Arrow because they've treated me so well, but it was time."