A new fire chief for the Sequim area could be offered a contract as soon as next week following a series of interviews.
Clallam County Fire District 3’s fire commissioners narrowed their list of candidates down to four candidates on Oct. 30 after an executive session and publicly announced the finalists on Nov. 7.
They are: Ronald Martin, current mass care coordinator for Lee County Board of County Commissioners in Florida; J. Kevin Nalder, most recently fire chief for the City of Palm Springs, Calif. from 2015-2022; John Payne, current assistant fire chief of Bremerton Fire Department, and Patrick Reid, current deputy fire chief for the City of Pasco.
Chairman Bill Miano said the district notified candidates and were awaiting responses by Nov. 6 (after the press deadline) to reveal the names and number of finalists.
An invite-only Nov. 13 meet-and-greet is set for fire district staff and volunteers, local municipal leaders and other stakeholders at Sunland Golf Club.
The following day, a series of oral boards will be conducted for the candidates and expected to last seven hours in executive session starting at 8 a.m. in the Holiday Inn Express.
In a press release, fire commissioners said, “the candidates bring a wealth of experience and expertise in the field of fire and emergency management (and they’ve) carefully evaluated each candidate based on their qualifications, leadership skills, and commitment to public safety.”
About the finalists
Editor’s note: this is information provided by Clallam County Fire District 3 and its consultant.
• Ronald Martin has worked in fire service for 30-plus years and has held various positions at Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District since 2003, including lieutenant, fire marshal, executive assistant fire chief and fire chief-district manager (2021-23). Martin has a master’s degree in homeland security/emergency management from Long Island University, a bachelor’s degree in business management from Hodges University, an associate’s degree in fire science technology from Edison State College, and he is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.
• J. Kevin Nalder was fire chief for the City of Palm Springs for about eight years, and prior he was the Director of the Fire Department, Building Department and Office of Emergency Management for the City of Kirkland from 2009-2015. Nalder was with the City of Salt Lake City (Utah) Fire Department from 1985-2009, where he began as a paramedic/firefighter and promoted through the ranks, serving in positions including captain, battalion chief, fire marshal-division chief, and lastly deputy chief. He has a bachelor’s degree in public emergency services management from Utah Valley University, and he is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.
• John Payne has been with the Bremerton Fire Department since 1994 when he began as a paramedic/firefighter and was promoted through the ranks to serve as lieutenant, captain, battalion chief, and in 2019 became assistant fire chief. Payne has a master’s degree in security studies-homeland security from the Naval Postgraduate School, a bachelor’s degree in fire science administration from Waldorf College, an associate’s degree of applied science degree in fire science from Southern Columbia University, and he is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.
• Patrick Reid has more than 30 years of fire and emergency management experience and has been the deputy fire chief for the City of Pasco since 2020. Prior, he was the deputy fire chief for the City of Yakima’s Fire Department from 2017- 2020. Reid also served the Fort Irwin Fire Department in California as division chief and he was with Fort Belvoir Fire & Emergency Services in Virginia from 1990-2012, where he served as fire chief for 12 years. He has a master’s degree in management and leadership from Western Governors University, and a bachelor’s degree in emergency services management from Utah Valley University, where he also received associate degrees in emergency management and fire officer.
Interim fire chief Dan Orr said there were 19 applicants, with a small number of those local to this part of the state. He said he is unsure how soon a hire could be announced; it would depend on the district’s offer and how long it takes the candidate to accept, Orr said.
He said consulting firm Prothman told district officials choosing a candidate could take a day, but that fire commissioners may want to take their time in deciding.
“There’s a lot of unknowns that need to be made clearer,” Orr said.
Miano said previously that fire commissioners’ goal for the new chief is to start January 2024.
He added that the fire chief would act as the CEO of the fire district while anticipating growth and “delivering services differently at a higher and a more consistent level of service.”
The new fire chief would take former fire chief Ben Andrews’ position after he exercised an option in his contract April 26 to work remotely. Andrews said he is retiring in April 2024.
Orr took over as interim chief and said he’ll stay on for a relatively short amount of time to help the person acclimate to the position.
Both Andrews and Orr announced in March their intent to retire within about a year. Andrews joined Clallam County Fire District 3 in 2003, and Orr in 2015.
Fire commissioners agreed to a $17,500 contract with the recruitment firm Prothman of Issaquah in July. Their warranty states that if the district follows the major elements of their process and a top candidate is not chosen, or a finalist is terminated or resigns within one year from the employment date, they’ll repeat the recruitment process with no additional professional fee, aside from expenses.
Some of Prothman’s recruitment process includes candidate screenings, background checks and interviews for up to 15 candidates.
Along with seeking a new fire chief, the fire district restructured this year to add three battalion chiefs while keeping the fire chief and deputy fire chief positions instead of a fire chief and three assistant chiefs model.
For more about Clallam County Fire District 3, visit ccfd3.org.