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Snohomish’s fire chief retiring late next month

SNOHOMISH — Ron Simmons is planning to call it a day soon.
He’s been Snohomish Fire’s chief the past seven years, but that’s just one-fifth of his 35-year career at the department.
His first day was Nov. 11, 1985. He’s decided his last will be June 31.
Fire District 4 won’t be selecting the new chief until as late as June, but its board began discussing the position this week after press time.
“I think it’s just now time to relax for a little bit, and not having to carry two phones and be on the radio” and all the work involved. “Right now is a great time to plan for the future.”
“November (would) be 35 years here, ultimately that was the plan (for my retirement), but over the last couple years, it’s been wearing,” Simmons said.
He’s content that Fire District 4 is financially steady — a “great financial position,” he put it — as he leaves. The next chief will need to use “some common sense management” to keep things stable.
But he’s tired, he said. He turns 61 next month, and he’s ready to wind down. He said his wife is retiring from her job, too.
“I’m sad to say we are going to leave Snohomish County,” considering that they have a lot of friends here, “but it would be difficult for me to hang around here because I’ll want to get involved,” Simmons said. A firefighter’s urge never dies.
A brush fire in the wheat fields of the Wenatchee Valley sparked the bug in 1979 when he was 20. Some guys ran to the fire station to volunteer, and he was put on a brush truck.
In 1980, he joined Wenatchee Fire as a volunteer firefighter, and had a stint with Spokane Fire and as a medical worker before landing at Snohomish.
There are no bets on who Snohomish’s next chief will be. The three-member fire board will make that call.
“The reality is, the only thing that’s going to change is the person in the chair — we still have to fight fires” and all the other duties of running a department, Simmons said.
Simmons was one of the deputy fire chiefs when he got the nod to replace retiring Chief Mark Collins.
His retirement is not politically motivated, he said, but he acknowledges a political fight over fire stations last fall quickened his decision to retire. “Yeah, that did affect me but it affected me personally,” Simmons said.

Fire District 4 held a meeting Monday, May 18 after press time. Here is the meeting video:

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