DES MOINES – State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds on Thursday requested and was granted a reassignment within the state Department of Public Safety, a move designed to defuse a controversy stemming from criticism he made of professional firefighters in a trade publication.
Reynolds, who was appointed state fire marshal in 2010, made the request to Iowa Public Safety Commissioner Larry Noble, citing personal and family issues. Reynolds has accepted a position as a special agent in charge of the state building code and inspection unit, according to a DPS news release issued Thursday.
“I have always stressed to our employees how important family is,” Reynolds said in a statement. “Now it is time I take my own advice and put my family first.”
Earlier this week, representatives of a Des Moines firefighters union told a local TV station they wanted Reynolds to apologize and retract a column he wrote that appeared July in a trade newspaper read by firefighters across the state. In the column, the state fire marshal was critical of firefighters who wanted pay for installing smoke detectors in Des Moines homes, stating he could find volunteer firefighters who would “be willing to come into your city and show you what being a real firefighter is like.”
However, firefighter associations leaders said it is illegal to ask public employees to volunteer for such tasks under federal law.