Elections 2013: Clallam County Fire District 3

Clallam County Fire District 3
Commissioner No. 3

What is the biggest challenge(s) for the Fire District in the coming year? What is a way a fire commissioner would combat this issue(s)?

James Barnfather

For a fire district, challenges are an everyday matter. This has been a constant throughout my professional career of 37 years in the Fire Service. Through continuing education for the fire commissioners as well as our first responders, we can meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.
While serving as your fire commissioner these past six years, I have continued my commitment to advancement in the areas of the Fire Service by obtaining certifications in: Fire Service law, public records, open public meetings, strategic planning, ethics, labor negotiations, annexations and mergers and leadership.

I am asking for your support for a second term so that I may continue my work to meet these challenges and provide the best training and equipment for our first responders. That equates to the safest, most efficient community for us all.

Sean Ryan

The biggest challenges for the district in these uncertain times is making sure our commitments to public safety are able to be met within our current fiscal budget. That means taking prudent steps to maintain our equipment and training for our personnel.

Commissioner vigilance must be hands-on, not a meeting now and then and to take a business-like approach to all decision making.


(Per) Mr. Ryan’s statement, how does being community minded and having solid business management come into play as a fire commissioner?

James Barnfather

Mr. Ryan presents his qualifications as having raised a family and owning a business. While I applaud him for that, one should not dare to suggest that this fire district should be run like a household budget or a small business with 1-2 employees.

We deal with nearly a $12 million budget, 100 employees (each with retirement packages and medical plans), and countless vendors and service companies. The only similarity is that they both have income (revenue) and costs (expenditures), to say nothing about assets and liabilities. Our administrative staff is highly proficient, yet we contract (or commission, if you will) professional businesses to handle the more complex aspects and legalities of the operation.

It should be clear, even to Mr. Ryan with his “solid business management skill” that this fire district’s exceptional business practices are the essence of community-mindedness. Therefore, I will let the fact that we recently won the Washington Fire Commissioner Association’s “Management Excellence” award speak for itself.

In a pamphlet, you said you can “bring a more community-minded view and solid business management skill to the table.” Can you cite an example or examples where this issue comes into play being a fire commissioner?

Sean Ryan

“Community-minded” means that the money we spend as commissioners and the way we manage those funds on behalf of the district is taxpayers’ money – not our money. Because I have been in business most of my life, I am accustomed to preparing budgets and business forecasts which I believe would be very pertinent to operating our fire department.

I will bring that same caution and awareness — that careful consideration to Fire District 3, because the fire department is truly a customer service business.


Many people feel operations from the commission to firefighters and paramedics are running smoothly. What needs to change and/or be maintained?

James Barnfather

CHANGE is not a word used by those who are proud of what our fire district has become. Not those first responders who provide the superior safety and protection of our citizens, nor the deserving community who benefits from it. However, change IS a natural occurrence in our world, and your Fire Service has to constantly be proactive in the areas of techniques and technology to provide the best it has to offer.

While I have been your fire commissioner, we have built a new fire station to provide better coverage and lower response times, built a state-of-the-art maintenance facility for our modern fleet, built an outstanding training facility to provide the best training for our personnel, established the position of a fire safety inspector for new construction and fire code compliance … and the list goes on. All of which, adds to our safety rating and lowers our insurance rates!

As your fire commissioner, I will continue to add to the safety and efficiency of our fire district, while prudently managing your tax dollars.


SAVING LIVES and SAVING MONEY always has been my platform and will remain my primary goal. Why would we want to change that?

Sean Ryan

Smoothly is a very subjective word. There are always personnel issues and funding issues that are not made public. As of now, we have one firefighter/paramedic that is currently on administrative leave, there is an ongoing investigation for missing narcotics, and there are alleged allegations of firefighter/paramedic sub contracting his work shift to other firefighters.

The commissioners and our fire department should be transparent as it is paid for by the taxpayers whom ultimately are the owners of the fire district. What needs to changed is the commissioners need to make sure they ensure transparency of the district to the public/taxpayers.


How does Fire District 3 include the community in its decisions? Are there any improvements on this to be made?

James Barnfather

To start with, the people elect a fire commissioner based on the candidate’s specialized history and experience. This ensures that the community is represented by the one most qualified and trusted. Your board of fire commissioners are more than just a representation of the community, we are the embodiment of it.

Since the doors to our public meetings always are open, our citizens can learn first-hand what is going on in their fire district. It is essential that we not only be a part of the community, but include the citizens in the very governing of it. As your current elected fire commissioner, I always have been, and will continue to be, accessible and eager to listen to our community’s concerns.

We continually introduce and review our many public education programs, including CPR and first-aid classes, school programs, the young adult Explorer Post, and many health and safety publications. I shall continue to monitor the needs of the community and apply my considerable experience toward providing the most advanced medical and firefighting practices available.

Re-elect your experienced fire commissioner. Together, we will save lives, and we will save money. I’m James Barnfather.

Sean Ryan

In my view, public notices of meetings and agendas for the meetings ought to be a regular part of public service announcements in the newspaper. It is imperative the public be informed and often invited to see and understand what their taxes pay for and to have a voice in the decisions made in our district.

I also would look at bringing the relationship even closer as to consider doing a personal one-on-one type of casual, “Coffee with a Commissioner” form of outreach, much like Sequim’s “Coffee with the Mayor, which would help build a good relationship with the public, the “customer.” 
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