Armed with a resumé packed with public service, Alan Predmore is slipping into retirement. Friday marks his final official day as chief of the Buckley Fire Department.
A true Plateau resident, Predmore has spend all his years living in either Enumclaw or Buckley. His maternal roots can be traced back to Enumclaw’s earliest days and he’s a graduate of the city’s K-12 school system.
“I really didn’t have any desire to live anywhere else,” he said of his lifetime in the foothills communities.
During one of his final days in uniform, Predmore admitted that stepping aside has brought mixed emotions. “It’s not easy because I absolutely love my job and I love the department,” he said. “There’s never been a day when I felt I had to go to work and that has made it fun.”
On the positive side, he said, “It’ll be nice to go to bed at night and not expect the pager to go off or the phone to ring.”
A LIFE IN UNIFORM
Predmore wasn’t one of those little boys who dreamed of being a fireman. Instead, he grew up aspiring to a life in law enforcement. But he quickly had his feet in both first-responder roles. It started after high school when he became a volunteer firefighter with the Enumclaw department and continued with fire/EMT training in 1982. His life included working for a private ambulance company and a short stint as a dispatcher with the Washington State Patrol.
“I was kind of torn,” he admits, between police work and firefighting. “So I started testing for both.”
It was the Buckley Police Department that came calling first, offering a position in the fall of 1984 on the small-town force. His police career saw him partnering with two dogs as part of the K-9 unit and rising to the rank of lieutenant by 1997.
“I had the best of both worlds,” he said, because he was still volunteering with the Enumclaw Fire Department, enjoying his time under then-chief Joe Kolisch. The only drawback was a noticeable lack of free time.
Fate then provided an opportunity to make a career leap and Predmore took advantage. The Buckley Fire Department found itself in need of a new chief and Predmore tossed his hat into the ring.
“I was looking for career advancement opportunities,” he said, having gained supervisory and budgeting skills during his climb through the police ranks.
“I thought, ‘what the heck, I’ll give it a shot,’” he said of the decision to seek the fire department’s top job. His leap of faith was rewarded when city leaders handed him the keys to the small fire operation.
“There are times I still miss being a cop,” he said. “But I have absolutely no regrets about making the switch from law enforcement to fire.”
The job has certainly changed from his early days on the job. Predmore was the department’s only full-time employee in the late ‘90s, he said, and “I hardly ever missed going on a call.”. Now, his role is primarily administrative.
Demands on the department have jumped dramatically. When Predmore took the reins in 1997, the department responded to 373 calls. The annual call volume has now grown to between 1,500 and 1,600 per year. When he started, the department was supplemented by 32 volunteers; now the volunteer roster sits at 75.
With the Buckley Fire Department on solid footing and some loose ends being tied up, Predmore is heading out the door. There’s not a single factor pushing him to retirement, he said, but simply some sage advice offered by a firefighting friends years ago. That retiree told Predmore, “you’ll know” when the time is right.
After 13 years in a Buckley police uniform and 23 in firefighter garb, that time is now.