Search for fire chief narrows

East Pierce Fire and Rescue could have a new fire chief by Saturday, but to the surprise of many it will not be interim Chief John McDonald.

Five candidates will be interviewed Friday and offer possibly by Saturday

East Pierce Fire and Rescue could have a new fire chief by Saturday, but to the surprise of many it will not be interim Chief John McDonald.

The search for a chief began July 26 when East Pierce Fire Chief Dan Packer died in a wildfire at the Panther Fire south of Happy Camp in Siskiyou County in northern California. McDonald has been the interim chief since Packer’s death.

Fire District No. 22 Commission Chairman Rick Kuss said 11 criteria, including education and time in the fire service, were used to evaluate candidates.

“It was a tough decision,” Kuss said. “Early on we decided to go with the top five out of the 18 candidates tested. It was not an easy decision and there was discussion.”

The five candidates who will continue the process were announced by Kuss at a Jan. 28 special commission meeting at the Sumner Fire Station.

The candidates are:.

• Norman Angelo, who has been in fire service for 38 years, served in the El Segundo Fire Department in El Segundo, Calif. and he was fire chief for the city of Kent;

• Kenneth Craft, with 26 years in fire service, is currently the assistant fire chief in Bonita Springs, Fla.;

• Edward Hartin, who is currently a battalion chief/division manager in Gresham, Ore., has been in fire service for 35 years;

• Scott LaVielle is the North Highline Fire District chief with 26 years in fire service;

• Jerry Thorson, the deputy chief at South King Fire and Rescue in Federal Way with 30 year of experience.

McDonald said he was “grateful to have had the opportunity to lead the organization this past eight months. I am extraordinarily proud of all the people in the the organization and they are the epitome of professionalism. I look forward to working with the next leader of the organization, which we believe is the best in the state of Washington.”

Kuss said the next step is the five candidates will be interviewed Friday by a committee of 15 members – nine from the commission, two staff members from East Pierce, a fire service representative from Pierce County, a citizen from the fire district, the president of the union and a fire service volunteer.

The top three will move to another series of interviews Saturday and Kuss said an offer could be made that day by the commission, pending a background check.

Reach Dennis Box at or 360-802-8209.

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