Commissioner, chief resign from fire district

North Whidbey Fire and Rescue is down both a commissioner and a chief.

Larry Wall resigned as fire commissioner after he failed to make it past the Aug. 1 primary election.

Voters narrowed four candidates for the position down to two, T.J. Lamont and Gerald Smith.

“There are a lot of important decisions for the district to make,” Commissioner Marv Koorn said. “He felt the new person should be making them.”

Wall did not return a call from the Whidbey News-Times for comment.

Whomever wins in the general election in November will likely be appointed immediately afterward to the three-member board of commissioners, according to Koorn. Under law, the board has 90 days after the election to appoint someone to replace Wall.

The commissioners asked Mike Brown to resign as fire chief, which he did a couple of weeks ago. Brown was promoted to the job after Koorn retired as fire chief two years ago.

The board named Deputy Fire Chief Mark Kirko as the district’s interim chief.

Koorn said he couldn’t comment on the change because it’s a personnel issue. Brown, however, was criticized by some in the community for trying to move the department away from a mostly volunteer force to one with more career staff.

Koorn said the current board has a strong focus on continuing as a volunteer organization.

“We don’t see hiring people right now,” he said.

Koorn said he doesn’t expect the changes to affect the levy lift request, which is on the November ballot. He pointed out that it didn’t do well, with 61 percent of the votes cast against the measure in the primary election.

If passed, the levy would increase the amount of property taxes collected within the district.

It would amount to an extra $70 a year for the owner of a home valued at $200,000.