Update: Woodinville Fire & Rescue Names Another Interim Chief

The Board of Fire Commissioners for Woodinville Fire & Rescue has selected a new interim chief for the Fire District after interim chief Mark Chubb said he didn't want the job permanently.

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Update 9 a.m. Thursday from Woodinville Fire:

Regarding the permanent replacement, that is a big part of what Interim Chief Risen will begin looking at. It will include what type of process will best match the goals of the Board for the future. 
Chief Risen will remain an employee of Bellevue Fire and be paid his current salary. The contract between Woodinville Fire and the City of Bellevue is to pay Bellevue the cost of Chief Risen's salary and benefits.


Original story:

The Board of Fire Commissioners for Woodinville Fire & Rescue has selected another interim chief for the Fire District. Mark Risen was named as the interim chief at a special meeting Dec. 5.

Risen is currently a deputy fire chief for Bellevue Fire Department and has been with the department since 1983, according to his Facebook page. Woodinville Fire & Rescue has entered into a contract with the City of Bellevue which allows Risen to serve as interim chief in Woodinville for a period of six months. Risen will begin his assignment on Monday, Dec. 17.

The Woodinville Fire chief’s seat became vacant when then chief I. David Daniels and the district entered into a . Daniels’ 19-month tenure in Woodinville was rocky almost from the start, culminating in July 2011 when International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2950 announced a unanimous vote of no confidence in the chief.

Mark Chubb was chosen as interim fire chief of Woodinville Fire & Rescue in August 2011, but he told the board of commissioners in February that he did not want the job permanently. He said at the time that it became clear as interim chief that the District’s fire commissioners and employees faced some very difficult decisions and that he had not succeeded in bringing these issues into sharp focus or bringing everyone together to address them constructively.

Bob Martinek December 06, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Who runs this thing!!!???? City? Union? Employees? Citizens? Someone needs authority, but someone needs to grant it. Ideas! Only thing I can see is to clean house, fire them all and start over. This is ridiculous!
Bob Whipple December 07, 2012 at 01:32 AM
The bottom line here is, anyone who was involved with the hiring of Daniels or was hired by Daniels needs to leave. That is the only way the department will ever regain the respect and confidence of the public, employees and surrounding area. This seems like an attempt to have someone else take the blame for for what the commissioners already know what needs to happen. Hire a good chief (one that can do the finances), outsource HR, begin doing prevention and public education again. In short go back four years and have a good department again.
Anon December 07, 2012 at 06:37 PM
@ Bob Martinek - The technical answer your question "Who runs this thing?" should be citizens. In practical terms, the Union runs this place today with three out of five commissioners in their pocket. Tim Osgood is a career firefighter at Northshore Fire Dept. and he has to do anything the Union wants or he will be kicked out of the union and loose his job. Mark Emery retired as a Battalion chief from Woodinville Fire Dept. as he was part of the same Union group. Jim Dorney is a retired Deputy Chief from Bellevue Fire Dept. from where he led the charge of appointing, in a rather awkward and rushed manner, the new Interim Chief Mark Risen. It is important to note that this arrangement was finalized by calling a special meeting at 10am which purposefully excluded 2 of the 5 commissioners who have day jobs and of course any citizens who have day jobs can't attend or comment either. If you look at the past record, this time for a special meeting is not normal for Woodinville Fire Dept. All special meetings in the past were scheduled at 5pm in the evening even if the meeting was held on days other than Monday. Why are tax dollars from Woodinville being transferred to Bellevue if the person will remain a Bellevue employee? Why can't the commissioners advertise for the permanent fire chief position and hire a strong candidate through a transparent process? I agree that this whole place needs a change, but I'd start by removing the 3 commissioners who are compromised.
Bob Martinek December 07, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Well when can we vote them out? I don't want "good ol boys" running our fire department. Sounds like something that would go on in Alabama, Louisiana.
Anon December 07, 2012 at 08:13 PM
If citizens wait around for the chance to vote them out, it may be too late. They would have made other idiotic decisions by then. They paid Daniels almost one year's worth of salary and benefits to walk away. They just settled with his predecessor for nearly $400,000. They have been spending $300,000 on attorneys each year. How the heck is that good use of tax payer dollars? Now they are shipping money to Bellevue for something they were hired (elected) to do - find a capable fire chief. Other commissioners need to grow a pair and demand resignations from those who circumvented the transparent process of making decisions. Too many things getting done behind closed doors at this place - how is that democratic?
John Q December 07, 2012 at 08:31 PM
@ Anon. I agree with you that the District should be run by citizens and it is. You may not realize but calling a special meeting was recommended by Vice Chairman Coughlin on Monday and Commissioner Collins acted in agreement of that recommendation, both Commissioners you say were "purposefully excluded". It was decided by the Board at the meeting on Monday December 3rd, (made up of Commissioners Coughlin, Dorney, and Collins), that a special meeting should be called due to the timeliness of the business at hand.(This process started months ago so I would not consider it being done in "a rather rushed and awkward manner" as you propose). Commissioners Emery and Osgood, who you stated are "in the pocket of the Union", were not even present Monday to recommend or support calling the special meeting. Given these facts all five Commissioners had full knowledge of the special meeting as well as the subjects to be discussed. As far as the makeup of the Board, Commissioner are elected by a vote of the citizens, or if a vacancy should occur, the Board holds public interviews and appoints a Commissioner to fulfill the remainder of that term. All Commissioner appointments were advertised for and the Board held open public interviews. Also, all present appointments were unanimously voted in. Given the full body facts it seems impugning the character of the public servants who are democratically elected, appointed, retired, or employed is unfair.
Anon December 07, 2012 at 08:55 PM
@ John Q - your standard of accountability is limited to the technical aspects of the rules and laws while I prefer to hold our elected officials to a higher standard. Commissioner Coughlin or Collins did not agree to a 10am special meeting.
John Q December 07, 2012 at 09:49 PM
@ Anon. I would like to disavow you of the notion that my standard of accountability is "limited to the technical aspects of the rules and laws". I also prefer to hold our elected officials to a higher standard which is why I choose to do so based on facts and not suppositions like the one you made about my "standard". I cannot say what any of the Commissioners agreed to, let alone specifically Commissioners Collins or Coughlin, following the Monday night meeting when all Commissioners tried putting dates on the calendar for the special meeting the Monday seated board felt was appropriate (Commissioners Coughlin, Collins, and Dorney). I only know for sure they thought a special meeting was appropriate. Could it be that the Board felt the matter was important enough to finalize the matter ASAP, nobody's schedule lined up, legal counsel or the Interim Chief had already made a recommendation, etc? I could speculate for hours but that is why I try not to. Regardless, I agree with you that changes are needed but changes should be based on the specific track record of each Commissioner and not clouded by anymore assumptions, suppositions, and speculation.
BBQ Dad December 07, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Most of the screw ups with the board of commissioners occurred when there was only one firefighter on the board, and most of those occurred because those guys couldn't tell when they got lied to by the Fire Chief because they had no fire department experience. Now we have four former Chiefs on the board and they're starting to hold the administration accountable for their actions and they're starting to clean this place up. These new guys haven't even been on the board for a year. None of them hired the former chief or paid him to leave. If you want to hold commissioners responsible, Coughlin and Osgood are the only ones who were there for those decisions. I'll vote for who ever runs against them. As a former Woodinville Volunteer firefighter, it breaks my heart to see how the the former commissioners (especially Miller and Olson), conspired with Coughlin and Osgood to wreck this department. I'm not a union fan, but those firefighters are the only thing that has held this place together for the past three years. I say we give the new guy a chance, he can't be any worse than the current interim chief.
Woodinville Fan December 07, 2012 at 11:55 PM
BBQ Dad hit the issue spot on. Osgood and Coughlin had an open vendetta against the union when the union wouldn't back them for re-election the last time they ran. The union didn't back them and guess what? Those two commissioners have made true on their promise starting with the hiring of an unvetted fire chief who was on the brink of being fired as Renton's Fire Chief. This has all been hashed out before but the place is still "broken" and for the good of the citizens, I hope that Chief Risen will take a critical look at the situation and help get what was once a fine department, complete with a Public Educator and Fire Prevention office, back on track. I hope he starts with the recommendation that the department is top-heavy with highly paid "executives" that are skimming work from their subordinates to justify their jobs.
BBQ Dad December 08, 2012 at 12:40 AM
@ Bob Martinek - The technical answer your question "Who runs this thing?", should be a competent Fire Chief hired by elected officials. I'll agree this hasn't been the case for three years, but I'm not about to blame the new commissioners or the new Interim Chief. But I'll be watching closely to make sure we don't get more of the same failures we've seen for the last three years.
Anon December 08, 2012 at 06:03 AM
I had heard that Mark Emery lobbied for re-accreditation efforts and he stands to gain financially because of his ownership stake as an instructor for fire training courses. I also heard that he proposed to all other commissioners that he can be the next Fire Chief. If I heard then it is possible others may have also, so I think Emery should clarify or explain his actions at the next Board meeting. Also, how is picking a deputy chief from Bellevue better than picking a retired chief who doesn't have any other ties or conflicts to deal with? And having an old collegue on the selection committee is awefully convenient. It has the full appearance of favoritism and a more sensible person would have recused himself from the decision process.
BBQ Dad December 08, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Rather than armchair quarterback the new positive dirrection the board has taken, I'll wait to see the outcome. They seem to finally be on the track to turning this thing around. I'm sure there are those who have a personal, political stake in seeing this department fail, but hopefully they're not so selfish as to sabotage our public safety for their own vindication.
Ross Van Vactor December 08, 2012 at 05:25 PM
As an employee of the district and a Woodinville resident, I think you should start attending board meetings and speaking up during public comment time. Being Anon and talking on this blog makes it easy to just talk and not listen. Hope to meet you at the next meeting.
Commissioner Osgood December 08, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Setting the record straight... The only reason a Special Meeting was held on Wednesday morning at 10 am was so the Board could act in a time sensitive manner on two extremely important actionable items. After hours of previous Board deliberation on these items, it was anticipated they would be acted upon on at the Monday night meeting. With the end of the year and holiday season rapidly approaching and Commissioner availability at a minimum, quick action by the Board was necessary. The Special Meeting was originally asked for our regular 5 pm starting time, however, only two Board members could be available. The 10 am meeting time was the only available time for a three member quorum. All Commissioners were advised. The two that could not attend were directed to supply their thoughts, if any, to myself or the Board Secretary to have read on the official Meeting minutes. It can't get any more transparent than that! As an elected representative of this fire department, I openly accept and seek scrutiny of all Board actions. During my tenure, I am convinced in the forthright and genuine efforts of each and every Board member to do what is right for our community. The expectations of this Board and time commitments required of each member to be properly prepared to act in the public's best interest, are at an all-time high. Each of us take this responsibility with the utmost seriousness and respect and are well aware of our collective Board goal in doing the right thing...
Anon December 09, 2012 at 05:50 AM
@ Commissioner Osgood - With all due respect, excuse me if I don't buy the urgency of filling this position on a temporary basis. Hasn't this spot been vacant for more than a year? I have not seen any catastrophic event in the news that warrants rushing to fill the Chief spot on an interim basis and then on a permanent basis. In my view this is either another bad decision by this Board which will cost more that $100,000 to the citizens of Woodinville or maybe this is a way for Mr. Dorney to give his friend (Mr. Risen) the interim Chief post in hopes of turning it into a permanent spot. I thought you had to reduce administrative positions to save money, so why waste money on this temporary fix? Why not just directly hire a permanent Chief by doing a national search which is part of Fire Commioner's role? Is Mark Risen a head hunter or a Deputy Chief? Are you going to run with 2 Deputy Chiefs again after laying off a Deputy position earlier this year?
BBQ Dad December 09, 2012 at 06:31 PM
@Anon- show up to a meeting. Ask these same questions. I've watched the last several meeting and its clear to me why they need to install a competent department head ASAP. I'm glad they've chosen to hire a temporary outside chief to buy some time. The last time the board (Miller, Ransom, Olson, Coughlin and Osgood) rushed and installed a permanent chief we ended up with Daniels, who wrecked the department. Your belief that hiring a temporary chief is a more expensive option ($100,000?) doesn't add up. Permanent or temporary, filling the Chief's position will cost about the same. As to whether Chief Risen and Jim Dorney are friends, if that's true, lets hope he chooses his friends wisely. I'd rather they choose a competent friend than another incompetent stranger.
Anon December 09, 2012 at 07:25 PM
@ BBQ Dad - I work in downtown Seattle and it is impossible to make the 5pm Board meeting, let alone a 10am meeting in middle of the day. On top, when I tried to search on ustream I could not find it. But I've been watching the them pretty regularly and all I've seen is one bad decision after another by the Board, no matter who has been on it. Long standing Board members have to go as a start and anyone on the Board that has a special interest group backing needs to go. Only folks who make decisions in the best interest of citizens should be appointed or elected. Like you said, when the Board has selected someone without an open and competitive selection process, it hasn't worked out. Why would it work out now, and that too as a temporary fix? They have made another bad move, period.


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