Onalaska Fire District Still Seeking New Chief, Commissioner

By Natalie Johnson / njohnson@chronline.com

As of Thursday night, Lewis County Fire District 1 had received no applications for chief and one for its open commissioner position, according to district Secretary Linda Patraca. 

Adam Myer is currently the interim chief. Former commissioner Jeff Lee resigned in December.

Commission Chairman Rich Bainbridge said he discussed the issue with other Lewis County fire chiefs and that they suggested reducing the qualifications expected for the job before advertising again. 

The position includes an $800 per month stipend and requires a number of qualifications, including being certified as an instructor. 

Myer has served as interim chief since November. On Thursday, he asked that his stipend be used to benefit the district’s education and fire prevention budget to buy smoke detectors.

The commission decided to ask for more input from area chiefs before revising the job description. A review of the description is scheduled to be on the agenda for the next regular meeting of the fire district board, at 7 p.m. Feb. 15. 

Craig Franklin, defeated in November’s election by Kassel, said he had submitted a letter of interest for the commissioner position. 

Former Onalaska chief Mark Conner said he would only submit his letter if the resigned volunteers agreed to come back.

“I understand why all the firefighters left. I know it’s mean but I don’t want to be that third wheel sitting in the Kassel fire department,” he said. 

Former commissioner Jeff Lee resigned in December. He told The Chronicle he believed the other two commissioners were violating laws, including the state Open Public Meetings Act.

“I can’t take the legal risk,” Conner said. 

He had a letter of intent, but around the middle of Thursday’s meeting, he crumpled it into a ball and threw it at the existing commissioners. 

The commissioners agreed to continue to accept letters of interest on the commissioner position. The commissioners have 90 days after a position becomes open to appoint a person before the appointment becomes the responsibility of the Board of Lewis County Commissioners. 

The Fire District 1 board has about another 60 days, Patraca said. 

More Information

How to Apply 

To apply for the Onalaska Fire Chief position, email a resume, copies of certifications and a letter of interest to lcfd1commissioners@tds.net or mail to LCFD1 P.O. Box 100 Onalaska, WA, 98570.

To apply for the open commission position, send a letter of interest to lcfd1commissioners@tds.net. Applicants must live within Lewis County Fire District 1.