Fire commissioners are close to selecting new chief from among six finalists

The board of commissioners at Vashon Island Fire & Rescue has chosen six finalists in its search for a new chief to head the fire department and will likely select one of them to lead the agency in as soon as next week.

After a recent executive session, the five board members identified the six top contenders from a field of 27 applicants from across the country. The applicants were recruited by Shane Fulwiler of Prothman Co., a headhunting firm.

The applicants are:

• Norman Angelo of Kent, the retired fire chief from the El Segundo, Calif., fire department and, prior to that, the Kent fire chief for 20 years;

• Mark Boynton of Swanzey, N.H., and currently deputy fire chief for Keene, N.H., a city with a population of around 23,000;

• Raymond Hatfield of Rancho Mirage, Calif., where he works as the division chief of the Cathedral City fire department;

• Kenneth Johnson of Eagle Point, Ore., where he served as the division chief and fire marshal in Jackson County’s Fire District No. 3 in Oregon until last November;

• Henry Lipe who is currently the fire chief of Hampton, N.H.; and

• Clifford Vaniman of Portland, Ore., who is currently a fire investigator with United Investigations and Sciences. Prior to that, he worked in the Bothell fire department and served as the deputy fire chief and fire marshal in Santa Rose, Calif.

Mike Kirk, acting fire chief, said the public will have a chance to meet the candidates at an open house when all six candidates are on Vashon for a couple of days.

The open house will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, July 8, at the department’s Penny Farcy Memorial Training Center on Bank Road. Snacks and beverages will be provided.

The following day, three panels — one comprised of the board of commissioners, another made up of department personnel and a third representing citizens — will interview the candidates. Kirk said he believes those interview sessions will be closed to the public.

The commissioners will likely try to winnow the list down to two finalists Wednesday night, with an eye towards naming their choice either Thursday or Friday, July 10 or 11, he said.

“We want to move it along,” he said.

The new chief replaces Keith Yamane, who headed up the Island’s fire department for less than a year until he resigned last November. Yamane left Vashon to become the chief at Union Gap near Yakima.

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