KENNEWICK — A Vancouver firefighter is heading across the state to become Kennewick’s new fire chief.
Chad Michael is leaving a spot as the deputy chief of operations at the Vancouver Fire Department to return to his roots in Eastern Washington. He starts March 16 and will be sworn in at the March 17 city council meeting.
City officials are working on scheduling a community reception.
“We are thrilled to welcome Chief Michael to our city team,” City Manager Marie Mosley said in an official statement. “We are confident that his diverse skill set and his commitment to serving the community at the highest levels are the right fit to lead the exceptional men and women in the Kennewick Fire Department.”
While Michael, 45, has spent a large portion of his career in Western Washington fire departments, he started firefighting in 1992 as a firefighter with Spokane County Fire District 8. He joined the department as a career firefighter four years later.
He has spent the past 11 years on the executive level holding positions in the Renton Regional Fire Authority and the Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue.
He finished his the National Fire Academy’s executive fire officer program in 2016 and was hired in Vancouver in 2017.
The city’s announcement said Michael is committed to customer service, working closely with partner agencies along with ensuring that firefighters are safe, well-trained and prepared for emergencies.
“I am excited to work with the men and women of the Kennewick Fire Department in order to ensure the department continues to deliver high quality service and is well prepared for the future,” he said in the statement.
The announcement comes nearly four months after the controversial ouster of former Chief Vince Beasley. He had been the chief since October 2014.
The city picked Western Fire Chiefs Association’s executive recruiting arm in September to find a new leader. The association has helped departments across the West, including Pendleton, Bend and Spokane.
The firm solicited applications and put together interview panels made up of community members, city leaders and fire department staff to interview the finalists. City officials haven’t said how many finalists were interviewed.
Everyone involved was committed to finding the best candidate for the job, wherever the candidate was working, said city spokeswoman Evelyn Lusignan.
“The firefighters were very supportive of doing the broad search,” she said.
Michael’s salary was not released, but he is expected to earn $122,000 to $171,000 a year.
Kennewick firefighters responded to nearly 9,990 calls in 2018. Most of those were for traumas and medical emergencies.
The new chief is coming in four months after a controversial exchange of public statements that ended the career of the longtime Kennewick fire official in September.
Beasley accused the city of trying to fire him and that he didn’t intend to retire.
Then city officials announced Beasley “effectively retired” by releasing that statement. He called the city’s decision an injustice after his 37 years with the department and some citizens protested to the city council.
Firefighter union members sided with the city mangers, saying they believe there were leadership and performance issues.