The town of Stowe is in a holding pattern as the recently fired fire chief awaits a hearing on his termination.

Kyle Walker was dismissed Dec. 15 by town manager Charles Safford after months of pressure for Walker to either resign or be terminated following allegations of sexual misconduct last spring. Walker appealed that decision to the town selectboard, asking for a January hearing.

Selectboard chair Billy Adams did not reply to an inquiry about the status of the appeal before press deadline, but Safford said such a hearing would not be open to the public, regardless.

“I’m sure they’ll do what they need to do to warn it,” Safford said Wednesday.

In the meantime, the fire department is being run by interim chief Scott Reeves, who was assistant chief when Walker was still with the department.

Reeves painted a picture last week, during town budget talks, of a department sorely in need of volunteers.

Besides Walker, the department has lost some longtime firefighters over the past year or two and, with that, a lot of institutional memory. Reeves said that can hamper the ability for newer people to keep up with their training, a sentiment Safford echoed.

“It’s more than meets the eye. You don’t just show up with a bucket and say, ‘I’m ready to go,’” Safford said.

In the wake of Walker’s termination, Safford has taken on the role of town health officer, the position Walker previously held. Prior to being placed on administrative leave a year ago while Vermont State Police investigated rape allegations against him, Walker, in his role as health officer, had been praised for his twice-monthly COVID-19 updates.

That tradition did not continue between the time he resumed his duties last April and when he was fired three weeks ago.

The town also lost another Walker after Kyle’s dad, Mark, stepped down as the town fire warden. A fire warden is responsible for issuing burn permits to residents and businesses and helping respond to forest fires.

Reeves has taken on that duty.

Safford said Mark Walker went above and beyond in his duty to the town — in addition to his duties as fire warden and, previously, a firefighter, he also worked as a mechanic on town vehicles.

“I want to thank him for all his years of service,” Safford said of Mark Walker.

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