JANUARY 27, 1997

 The Edwards Agency

Local News

Ben May new Fire Board chair

Ben May

Ben May is new chair of the Woodinville Fire District Board of Commissioners.

new Fire Board chair by Jeff Switzer
Promising a new direction in the board's actions and its relationship with the public, Commissioner Ben May has been chosen the new chair of the Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District Board of Commissioners.
   "This gives me the chance to contribute to something I'm passionate about in my own field of expertise," May said.
   May, vice-president of national and international account development at Chateau Ste. Michelle, has 35 years of marketing in the fire service, including traveling around the country and giving a series of seminars called "Fire Service Marketing Management."
   May says he has had a passion for the fire service since he was a small boy. He served as a volunteer firefighter, graduating at the top of his academy. He was appointed to the Woodinville Fire Board in 1994 to complete Woodinville Mayor Bob Miller's last year and was elected to the position unopposed in the fall of 1994.
   May feels much work is needed to improve the relationship with the district's customers.
   "It's time to put the past behind us. This whole mess, in my opinion, is a complete lack of communication within the department and with the citizens of the department," said May, describing the series of events following the resignation of former fire chief Jim Davis last year.
   "There is nothing hidden in that department, the problem is total misperception," he said. "If you don't get information, if there's not a line of communication between you and your customers, ideas fester, and people imagine what might be happening. Anything you see: 'Oh, there's something there.' Then there's a negative connotation, because the overall feeling is negative. It builds on itself and damages the morale of the firefighters."
   May proposes an open-door policy with the public, starting with the district's strategic planning process and identifying its future goals and priorities.
   "And I'm not going to tolerate petty bickering between Commissioners," he added.
   May listed the priorities recently identified through the strategic planning process:

  1. Fulfilling the district's mission: Dedication to the preservation and protection of life and property.
  2. Most critical customer needs at this point: Disaster preparedness, quick response, identification of special customer needs.
  3. Lots of community involvement.
  4. Work with other at-risk populations: Also serving as role models for teens.
  5. Code enforcement and urbanization issues: Calls are going to increase.
  6. Managed care: Relationship with insurance companies. Closer relationship with the providers of managed care for a cost-effective way of emergency and non-medical service delivery.
   May says the fire district is going to be re-evaluating everything as part of its strategic planning process, from regionalized training to mergers, improving the efficiency of the use of tax dollars.
   "In the recent past, the communication between the city and the district has been less than adequate. It's been horrible. That's going to end," May said. "Our goal is to improve the relationship with the city and make it a win-win situation. It needs to be done correctly and in the right way and it hasn't been. It has to be done fairly."