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Merrill named North Whidbey Fire and Rescue training officer

After sifting through 25 applications that resulted from a nationwide search, the commissioners for North Whidbey Fire and Rescue opted for someone  local to fill its vacant training officer position.

The three-member board of commissioners named Ray Merrill, presently fire marshal for the Oak Harbor Fire Department, as the district’s new training officer. Commissioners Bruce Carman, TJ Lamont and Jerry Goen unanimously approved the decision during a special meeting March 14.

North Whidbey Fire and Rescue Chief Marv Koorn said applications came from as far away as Kentucky for the training officer position that was last held by Joe Biller. Locally, Koorn said firefighters from Camano Island, Boeing, and Mount Vernon also applied for the position.

However, Merrill’s experience seemed to sway the commissioners.

“I think we’re fortunate to get a talent like this in the local area,” Carman said after the meeting.

Merrill has been working for the Oak Harbor Fire Department for 22 years. Prior to that, he served as a firefighter in Federal Way and Westport. He has been fire marshal in Oak Harbor for 16 years.

“It was a good time in my career to make a change to a new position,” Merrill said Monday morning. “I want to get back into training.”

Merrill is technically retiring from the Oak Harbor Fire Department. When he takes his new position with North Whidbey starting April 1, he will earn $58,000 a year. He will sign a five-year contract and he will be responsible for the training and safety programs for the district that covers North Whidbey Island outside the Oak Harbor city limits.

Biller, who was the long-time chief of Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue, held the training officer position until December, when he retired for the second time.

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