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Vashon seals the deal for new fire chief

Hank Lipe, his wife Marianne Metz-Lipe and his daughter Shannon Lipe say they’ve already found Vashon warm and welcoming.  - Leslie Brown/staff photo
Hank Lipe, his wife Marianne Metz-Lipe and his daughter Shannon Lipe say they’ve already found Vashon warm and welcoming.
— image credit: Leslie Brown/staff photo

Hank Lipe, a veteran firefighter who currently serves as the chief of a department in Hampton, N.H., has decided to accept an offer extended last week to become Vashon’s new fire chief.

Lipe, who spent the weekend house-hunting with his wife Marianne Metz-Lipe and their daughter, 11-year-old Shannon Lipe, said he and his family were struck by the Island’s beauty, the community’s friendliness and the area’s quality of life.

“We’ve been here since Friday night, and we’re just so impressed with the whole area,” he said from the deck of La Playa on the north end of the Island, minutes before hopping on a ferry to head to Seattle.

“We’re anxious and excited to move out here and become a part of the Vashon community,” he added.

Commissioners for Vashon Island Fire & Rescue (VIFR) unanimously offered the job to Lipe after a head-hunting firm identifed six finalists and after two other panels — one staffed by community leaders and residents and the other by VIFR staff — endorsed his selection. The commissioners agreed to pay him $105,000 a year; Keith Yamane, who stepped down in last November after only a year on the job, made around $100,000 annually, according to acting fire chief Mike Kirk.

Lipe has been fire chief in Hampton, a seaside town with a year-round population of 16,000 that swells to 100,000 during the summer months, for nine years. Prior to that, he was fire chief for the department in Windham, N.H.

Lipe also has a 23-year military background; in 2003, he retired as a chief petty officer from the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve.

Hampton has 43 career firefighters and personnel, according to the fire department’s Web site. Lipe’s work in Hampton includes emergency management planning as well as oversight of both the fire and Emergency Medical Services resources.

Lipe is also involved in many local, state and national organizations including the Hampton Youth Association, the New Hampshire Association of Fire Chiefs and the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

Lipe, whose son, Henry, attends the University of Cincinnati, said he and his family enjoy music and the arts and are pleased by all that Vashon offers culturally. They said they planned to visit the Island’s public schools later this week.

t Hank Lipe decides it’s a go after a weekend on the Island.

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