Ron Simmons named Snohomish fire chief
SNOHOMISH — Since his boss and longtime mentor Mark Collins retired as fire chief of the Snohomish Fire District 4, Ron Simmons has been busy orchestrating big changes as he officially takes the title of chief.
“It’s been hectic,” Simmons said. “Our EMS levy expires soon, and I’ve been working with the board on what the message to the public should be and how to get it out. Even though we started this discussion in September, time just slipped away and we weren’t really prepared.”
The fire department’s emergency medical services levy expires at the end of the year. The current rate is 35 cents per $1,000 assessed home value. The fire board decided to ask voters for the maximum 50 cents per $1,000 assessed home value. The levy will be on the August ballot.
Simmons also has been doing some major personnel rearranging, he said, shifting people around to and from different positions in the department. This has been time-consuming administratively, and probably won’t settle down for another three months, he said.
One of those personnel moves included the promotion of Mike Gatterman from battalion chief to deputy chief, which started April 1. Gatterman is now second in command.
“I think we’ll do well together,” Simmons said.
Gatterman has been with the department as a volunteer and career firefighter for 35 years. His father was a volunteer chief when Simmons started with the department in 1985.
Simmons also is awaiting the graduation of 16 recruits who are going through the fire academy right now. That class will be done with formal training in June and will start using equipment and then begin emergency response training after that. By the end of the year, Simmons said, some of those graduates will be able to start responding to calls.
Between making all the personnel moves within the department and getting ready for new firefighters, Simmons said he’s looking at another six months before staffing issues are settled.
“We’ll have everything settled just about the time the levy finishes up,” Ron said, then added with a laugh: “It’s going to be a fun summer!”
Simmons has been with the department for 28 years.
“The fire commissioners have always worked well together and they’ve shown a lot of confidence in me,” Simmons said. “We still have plans to improve things around here and get these projects done and provide service to the public. It’s a little busier than what I had initially hoped for but it hasn’t been completely overwhelming.”
“These are growing pains. One step at a time,” he said.
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