May 31st marked the last day for Woodinville Fire & Rescue’s interim fire chief, Mark Risen.
In December 2012, Risen replaced WF&R Deputy Chief Mark Chubb who held the position of interim fire chief until the department could find a replacement after former chief I. David Daniels was ousted in August 2011. The department has had a series of troubles with fire chiefs dating back to 2005.
In a quick six months, Risen successfully completed the final piece of the department’s internal reorganization plan, negotiated the ongoing Bothell annexation plans to conclusion with the City of Bothell and neighboring agencies, recommended new policies, procedures and agreements to the fire department’s board and brokered several agreements with the department’s labor groups, according to Tim Osgood, current chair of WF&R’s Board of Fire Commissioners.
Risen quickly identified his primary goals when taking on the job.
"My first goal was to start rebuilding communication and trust within the organization. Without that in place, you cannot make any progress. Secondary to that was taking a good look at the immediate issues facing the District: annexation, the next chief and labor contracts," he explained.
"Chief Risen’s tenure was marked with poise, professionalism and establishing a new direction for our department," Osgood said, adding, "Although our existing staff and outgoing fire chief were working diligently on many of these things prior to Chief Risen’s arrival, he made such efficient use of his time that he has spent his last few weeks monitoring the new systems and staffing in place, making certain that we’re headed in the right direction."
Asked if he felt he’d accomplished the goals he’d set for the department, Risen said, "I believe we made outstanding progress, and all of it was accomplished by establishing trusting relationships with administrative staff, the labor group and the City of Bothell."
Risen will return to the Bellevue Fire Department and reprise his position of Deputy Chief of Operations.
Woodinville’s new partnership with the City of Bothell Fire and EMS will allow both agencies to consolidate staff and resources and begin the process to regionalize emergency services over a larger area.
This process begins with the notable decision to share the position of fire chief between the two departments.
(See front page story, Woodinville Weekly, June 3 or visit www.nwnews.com).