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New fire chief named on Central Whidbey
Ed Hartin’s first experience with fires occurred when he was just six weeks old. His father, then the chief of the fire department in Wayland, Mass., was responding to a house fire and took his baby along.
That ignited a life-long passion for firefighting that ultimately led to Hartin’s current position as the newly named chief of Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue.
“Most of my life, I had a pretty good sense of what I was going to do in life,” Hartin said Wednesday afternoon. He takes over for long-time chief Joe Biller, who retired earlier in the year.
Hartin will earn $90,000 a year working for the fire district that has nine full-time staff, 26 volunteers and responded to 912 calls in 2008. Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue operates four stations from Penn Cove to north of Freeland.
Hartin began his career in Concord, Mass., as a firefighter in 1974 and worked his way up through the ranks. Then, nine years later, he became the fire chief in Mashpee, Mass., which is located on Cape Cod. After that, he became an instructor at the National Fire Academy.
While serving as an instructor, he garnered his first experience as a volunteer firefighter in the borough of Fairfield, located in southern Pennsylvania. He said the chief threw him his protective gear and, the next thing he knew, he was on the back of a fire engine.
He eventually moved to the West Coast and worked for the fire district in Gresham, Ore. He spent 14 years working for Gresham Fire and Emergency Services. He was most recently a division chief. When the economy soured he lost his job when his position was eliminated.
“That gave me an opportunity to ask myself what I can do next in my career,” Hartin said. He always enjoyed working with departments that use both paid and volunteer firefighters, and when he saw the Central Whidbey position come open, it also provided him with a chance to stay in the Pacific Northwest.
He said the Central Whidbey commissioners and Hartin basically interviewed each other to see if they were a good fit. He officially started his position Thursday, Nov. 12, during the Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue commissioner meeting.
Hartin complimented the staff and volunteers for their commitment to the community. He said there will be some changes in store for the fire district. Continuing on work started by interim chief Chad Michaels, he said the staff will develop a strategic plan in the next year to better outline the goals of the district.
He said that the plan will help firefighters continue to improve while meeting the needs of the community.
In the meantime, Hartin will also be busy settling into the community. He is planning to live within the fire district’s boundaries. His wife, Sue, will be moving up from Oregon when he finds a house. Until then, Hartin will be living in his fifth-wheel trailer he brought up from Gresham.