Fire District picks Andrews for chief

After 14 years, Clallam County Fire District 3 is hiring a new fire chief.

After 14 years, Clallam County Fire District 3 is hiring a new fire chief.

Assistant Chief Ben Andrews was selected on April 21 to follow Chief Steve Vogel after 34 years with the department.

Vogel will retire on Aug. 31 with Andrews beginning his new role Aug. 1. Andrews was chosen over fellow Assistant Chief Tony Hudson.

“Both Ben and Tony were excellent choices,” said James Barnfather, fire commissioner chairman.

“Ben’s long-term vision was what put him over the top.”

Barnfather said they chose to hire in-house in December because they “already have the most qualified candidates, both literally and figuratively, right in front of us.”

Andrews joined the Sequim crew in 2003 after 10 years as a lieutenant with Jefferson County Fire District 3. He’s served in Sequim as assistant chief in charge of training and operations since then.

He holds a Bachelor of science in public administration from Washington State University and a Bachelor of Science in public administration from Washington State University. In his Sequim tenure, he’s helped create the district’s first 20-year capital improvement plan, and in grants.

During the interview process, Andrews said he and Hudson had a great journey and learned they make a good team.

“We support each other in a lot of good ways,” he said.

Barnfather said Hudson, a Sequim native, has his heart and soul here and will continue to serve as assistant chief of logistics.

“Ben will really rely on him and I think the two of them, with Ben’s vision, will get us into the future,” Barnfather said.

Hudson, a 1985 Sequim High School graduate, started as a volunteer firefighter/EMT with the fire district in 1985 while working as a fire/police dispatcher until he was hired by the fire district in 1988  as a firefighter/EMT.

He served as a captain for 13 years, assistant chief of fire prevention/ fire marshal for two years, assistant chief operations and training for a year and as assistant chief of logistics for five-plus years.

Goals and vacancies

Vogel separated himself from the hiring process, he said, so that he could walk into the building later on and feel good about coming in without any ill feelings.

He was the district’s second paid full-time firefighter/paramedic a few months after its first hire Aaron Espy in June 1982.

He was promoted to fire chief in February 2001 after the retirement of Tom Lowe, who became the first paid fire chief in May 1981.

In Vogel’s tenure, the fire district first responded to about 500 calls in 1982 and now reports to about 6,500 fire and medical calls a year.

“(Andrews and Hudson) and Assistant Chief Roger Moeder made me successful,” Vogel said. “If you look at the fire district 15 years ago, all our apparatuses were from the 1970s and 1980s. Now we’re into current fire trucks but it took all of the chiefs to move this district forward.”

Moeder also announced his retirement effective in mid-2016.

Andrews said before Vogel leaves, they plan to meet with community members and assess the management team.

“We’ve got a lot of change coming up and a lot of things that are going to stay the same, and I’m excited to share what I have as a vision for the department,” Andrews said.

Andrews said his long-term goal was to pursue being a fire chief. In August, he’ll begin overseeing 40 full-time staff and 60-80 volunteers.

“We’re a really good department that could be better,” he said. “That’s what we tell ourselves. I think we’re the best department around but there’s always room for improvement.”

For more information on the fire district, call 683-4242 or visit