North Whidbey fire chief to stay with district

Chief John Clark rescinded his acceptance of the chief position at the Aberdeen Fire Department.

Despite accepting a position with the Aberdeen Fire Department last month, North Whidbey Fire and Rescue Chief John Clark is staying put for now.

Clark told the News-Times Monday that he has formally rescinded his acceptance of the chief position at the Aberdeen department in order to see some Whidbey-based projects through to their completion.

The Daily World reported last week that Clark would take over as the Aberdeen chief in August. Clark, who has been in the fire service for over 40 years and with North Whidbey Fire and Rescue for two years, said though the position was a great opportunity, he ultimately decided he wanted more time to finish up some ongoing projects at his current department. North Whidbey Fire and Rescue has two new fire trucks coming in September, he said, and a number of grant applications out awaiting response.

During a meeting Tuesday morning, the North Whidbey Fire and Rescue Board of Commissioners accepted a proposal from Clark to stay on through the end of December. Chris Swiger, division chief of operations, will still move into the interim chief position as planned, with the intention of transitioning to chief once Clark leaves the department for good. Swiger will handle day-to-day operations, allowing Clark to focus on wrapping up the aforementioned projects.

Clark said his plans for the end of the year are not set in stone, though after four decades of service, he sees retirement on a not-too-distant horizon.

The Department has seen an unusually high amount of turnover in the chief position over the last decade. Former Chief Marv Koorn was replaced by Mike Brown following Koorn’s retirement in 2013, Clark said. Brown was followed by Mark Kirko, then Tim Lemon, who died from pancreatic cancer within weeks of his appointment to the position. According to Clark, a typical tenure as a fire chief lasts five to seven years.