CHEHALIS – Chehalis City Manager Merlin MacReynold said the five finalists for fire chief interviewed today have a lot of experience, from different places, with different strengths.
They come from a much stronger pool of candidates than he saw last fall, he said.
“It’s going to make my decision a little bit harder,” he said. “But that’s a good thing.”
The city last had a full time fire chief two years ago, when Kelvin Johnson retired. Last spring, half-time Fire Chief Jim Walkowski moved to Spokane County to take a new job and an attempt in September to hire a new chief ended with no one chosen.
Today, the five men were interviewed by representatives of city management, the fire department, neighboring fire agencies and members of the community. MacReynold did a “debriefing” with the interviewers this afternoon, before a reception in the basement at Chehalis City Hall.
The city manager said he expects it could be two to three weeks until he makes an announcement.
These are the choices:
• Ken Cardinale, has lived in Kelso the past year and a half, moving to be closer to family after 29 years with the city of Palo Alto, California. Cardinale served in numerous positions including battalion chief, acting EMS chief and acting deputy chief.
• Jim McGarva is assistant chief at the Tumwater Fire Department, a position he’s held for seven years. He has worked there for 23 years and has 30 years in the fire service.
• Joseph Clow lives in Enumclaw and last summer left his longtime position as chief at King County Fire District 28. During his 35 year career, he has served as chief in three other states.
• Brad Paulson became a firefighter in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1986, and served 18 years as deputy fire chief there, before moving into his current position five years ago. He is the emergency services administrator for the entire borough, and also a volunteer battalion chief.
• John Banning retired after almost 25 years at the Austin Fire Department in Texas, and has spent much of career in command level positions. He is into his third year as chief of the Blue Ridge Fire Department in northern Arizona.
For background, read : “Meet potential new fire chiefs for Chehalis on Monday” from Wednesday April 1, 2015, here