Key Peninsula Fire Department Chief Tom Lique resigned from his post Tuesday night and will be on administrative leave until Saturday, his official last day.
The surprise departure from a department he’s been part of for 30 years was not planned, Lique said from home Wednesday.
“I went to work yesterday not planning to resign, and at the end of the day it worked out that way,” he said.
But fire commission chairman Ray Lamoureaux said the board “knew it was coming.”
“It was just one of those deals where the board had one vision of where we needed to take the department and Tom had another, and we felt now was the time to part ways,” Lamoureaux said.
Lique offered a similar explanation. Part of his departure included his signing a document limiting what he could say publicly, he said.
He suggested relationship differences with the fire commissioners, but said he didn’t think there was one issue that led to the board wanting him out.
Still in shock Wednesday, Lique, 48, said he holds no ill will.
“At the end of the night my resignation provided the greatest amount of security for me and my family,” he said. “I sure hope the community doesn’t feel like I let them down.”
Lique was appointed chief in 2006 but began with the department in 1984 as a volunteer firefighter while a senior at Peninsula High School. He was offered a full-time position in 1986.
Lique led the department through difficult times. In 2012, he was very public about the department’s need for more money to support the hiring of eight firefighters. He pointed to lagging response times to fire calls that were well below the national standard.
Voters approved a tax increase that would have hired the additional staff, only to learn financial projections were worse than expected and only four firefighters would be hired.
Two positions were added in 2013 and two more will be added in April.
“Tom did a great job during that crisis,” Lamoureaux said. “He did an outstanding job of managing personnel, and he did an outstanding job of managing the PR part of it.”
Lique hopes to spend another 30 years in the profession, but right now is still processing the unplanned departure.
“I always imagined I would retire here,” he said.
Assistant Chief Guy Allen will be interim chief until a new chief is hired. Lamoureux guessed it could take nine months to a year to complete the process.
The Key Peninsula Fire Department serves 17,000 people over 65 square miles. It has 25 full-time professional firefighters and 24 volunteers, with four more in training.