King County Fire District 28 took a Mother May I leap forward Aug. 3 when the fire board hired Randy Fehr as its permanent fire chief.
The 42-year-old Fehr has been serving as interim chief since April.
Fehr requested a personnel evaluation prior to the board meeting. He wanted to know he was doing the job to the commissioners’ satisfaction.
After considering his performance, the board Chairman Stan McCall came back with a question for Fehr.
“If this board were to appoint you as permanent chief would you accept?” McCall asked.
Fehr said yes, a motion was made by Commissioner Angie Stubblefield, seconded by Commissioner Dave Hannity and it passed unanimously.
Fehr said he was not expecting to be named permanent chief, “I was surprised and I was happy.”
McCall said at the meeting, “Let me begin by saying how pleasing it has been, how rewarding and satisfying to work with you. You have really taken the bull by the horns and done the job.”
Stubblefield said Fehr is a “Rock star…. I’ve been very impressed. I just can’t help but believe with you at the helm we are going to go a long way.”
Fehr started in the fire service as a volunteer in Enumclaw in 1992. He worked for the Boeing Fire Department from 1996 to 1998.
He was hired in Enumclaw as a firefighter in 1998. He was promoted to captain in 2008.
He has served as the fire marshal for Enumclaw since 2004 and he currently is the vice president of the Washington arson investigators chapter.
Fehr said he is reaching out and working with other fire chiefs in the surrounding region.
“I feel like out reputation was stolen from us,” Fehr said. It’s been a rough three or four years for our firefighters. I want to get out reputation back.”
The chief said he knows there are challenges ahead for the district, including funding.
“For years we have been reactive, rather than proactive,” Fehr said. “We have to plan for what we know is going to happen.”
Since 2013 the call volumes have increased by 21 percent according to Fehr.
The chief said the call volumes will continue to rise each year, and since the levy failure in November 2013 the district has fewer staff members to respond.
The fire district went through a tidal wave of trouble in 2014 after the levy failed including laying off firefighters and the resignation of former Fire Chief Joe Clow in May 2014.
Doug Dawson took over as interim and Mike Reynolds took on the district attorney responsibilities and the hot talk began to cool.
The final step was for the board to make a decision for a fire chief.
“You are going to have to help us get out of this mess,” Stubblefield said to Fehr at the meeting.