East Pierce Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief John McDonald has seen the fire department grow from a small city fire department to the largest fire district in the county.
And now, after 18 years of working with East Pierce, McDonald will be retiring at the start of March.
“I set a goal for myself to do 30 years and retire while I was still young enough,” McDonald said. “As I got into my career, I thought that was a good goal I set when I started.”
McDonald has worked with several different fire organizations during his career, but considers working with East Pierce and former Fire Chief Dan Packer the most important career decision he ever made, both personally and professionally.
“It’s been a great career,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade anything that I have done in my career for the world. I leave here with no regrets.”
McDonald announced his retirement to the Board of Fire Commissioners January 2014. During the Jan. 20 Commissioners meeting, it was announced that McDonald will be put on administrative leave with pay on Feb. 1, and will officially retire on March 1.
“John’s put in 18 years worth of hard work for the organization, and his knowledge of the fire service and his ability to get things down will be missed,” Fire Chief Jerry Thorson said. “It will be a challenge to be without a Deputy Chief.”
The fire department does not plan to fill the soon-to-be vacant Deputy Chief position for the time being, according to Thorson.
Thorson said the administrative leave is a way for both McDonald and the fire department move smoothly through this transition period.
“On one hand he wants to stay and get things done. On the other hand, people are ready to start the new model, if you will,” said Thorson. “It both helps send him off into retirement and helps the department move into the next phase a little more efficiently.”
McDonald’s plans for retirement stay mostly local, he said. He plans to spend more time with his son and wife, take care of the house and yard, do some volunteer work and golf a little more.
“I have no intention of working again,” McDonald said. “Retirement is retirement.”