Arlington mayor says goodbye to fire chief

  • Thursday, September 14, 2017 2:04pm
  • Opinion

By Barb Tolbert

Saying goodbye to valued employees is hard, even when I am excited about their next professional challenge. Saying goodbye to Fire Chief Bruce Stedman will be very hard. Let me tell you why:

In his seven years at the city of Arlington, Bruce has accomplished much. Right after he arrived, he organized his staff to do public outreach on a levy issue. That levy had failed in November 2010, but it passed in April 2011 at 84.52 percent. Bruce likes to jump in and get ‘er done.

Like all of our directors, Bruce and his staff have worked hard to secure funding via budget negotiations. He also sought grant funding to update all fire and emergency medical service apparatus, including our engine, ladder staff vehicles and three ambulances. The new equipment included mobile data terminals so crews could communicate with dispatch and command. Bruce likes to ensure up-to-date equipment.

Bruce improved our firefighter training program by upgrading our standards, coordinating with other fire districts and holding live exercises whenever possible. Even the City Council participated in three Council Fire Academies.

He implemented a “Healthy In, Healthy Out” program where firefighters doff all gear used at a scene, and have a decontaminated set of gear ready for them. Bruce likes a well-trained, safe staff.

Bruce started our wildland response training program, and encouraged his staff to secure grant funding for the brush rig. That created new opportunities for our firefighters, and allowed Arlington to help other counties with wildland fires. He also secured grant funding to send three firefighters to the Harborview Medical Center paramedic program. Bruce likes to create career development opportunities for his staff.

Bruce’s greatest achievement occurred when we promoted him to Public Safety Director for two years. In that time, he provided professional development opportunities for police officers and sergeants, implemented a community outreach program called “All In,” and acquired two canine officers. Bruce relied on strong fire leadership from (now retired) Deputy Fire Chief Tom Cooper so that he had the capacity to make positive change in the Arlington Police Department.

For all these reasons and many more, we will miss Bruce at the city. He is moving on to an exciting opportunity with the recently formed South Snohomish County Fire and Rescue Regional Fire Authority. Bruce believes in efficient use of resources, and this new regional fire authority will show others, including Arlington, how a regional fire authority can work. I am grateful for his service to Arlington and wish him well on the next phase of his career.

To fill Stedman’s position, we have named Deputy Fire Chief Dave Kraski as our acting fire chief. We will be working with Cooper in a non-uniformed role to provide administrative support to the department.

Barb Tolbert is the mayor of Arlington. Her column runs monthly.

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