City announces finalists for fire chief

The community is invited to meet the six candidates at a public reception on Monday, July 11.

Six candidates were selected to interview to become Tukwila’s next fire chief.

The community is invited to meet the candidates at a public reception on Monday, July 11, from 5:30-7, in the Tukwila City Council Chambers, 6200 Southcenter Blvd.

The city received 18 applications through a nationwide search, city spokeswoman Rachel Bianchi said. One of the finalists is Donald Tomaso, Tukwila’s fire marshal.

The Tukwila Fire Chief is appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council. Interviews will be on July 12, and the city hopes to fill the position by Sept. 1. The position carries annual salary ranging from $116,616 to $151,656.

Chris Flores has served as the interim fire chief for several years, while the city considered joining the Kent Fire Department Regional Fire Authority.

“When the decision was made to not pursue the RFA at this time, the mayor wanted to make sure there was a permanent chief,” Bianchi said.

Meet the candidates

• David Bathke has worked for the Hellsgate Fire District in Arizona since 2012, first as battalion chief, and as fire chief since 2014. Prior to that, he was the fire chief/fire marshal for Ripon Area Fire District in Wisconsin from 2011-2012. Bathke has also worked as the administrative captain/training officer for the Lisbon Fire Department in Wisconsin from 2003-2011, and as relief lieutenant, firefighter and paramedic for the Wauwatosa Fire Department in Wisconsin from 1992-2011. He has a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Upper Iowa University and a master’s degree in management from Cardinal Stritch University in Wisconsin.

• Al Dyer Jr. has served the Lincoln Park Fire Department in Michigan since 1994 and is currently the fire chief. He progressed up through the ranks beginning as a firefighter, promoted to engineer in 1999, sergeant in 2005, sergeant training officer in 2010, fire inspector in 2012, fire marshal in 2013 and fire chief in 2014. Dyer has a bachelor’s degree in public safety studies from Siena Heights University in Michigan, and a master of science degree in technology studies from Eastern Michigan University.

• Michael Jackson has been a division chief for Clark County Fire and Rescue in Ridgefield, Wash., since 2013. Prior to that, he was the fire chief for Woodland, Wash., from 2010-2013, assistant chief/fire marshal for the Astoria Fire Department in Oregon from 2004-2010, and he was a fire inspector/investigator for Washington Township/Avon Fire Department in Indiana from 2002-2004. He also served as a firefighter and EMT for the Mason Fire Department in Ohio from 1999-2002. Jackson has a bachelor’s degree in fire and safety engineering technology from Eastern Kentucky University and an executive master of public administration degree from the University of Washington.

• Mark John is the fire chief for the Baker City Fire Department in Oregon. Prior to that, he served in the Anaheim Fire Department in California for a total of 27 years, starting as a firefighter/paramedic, then fire captain for seven years and finally battalion chief from 2011-2014. During this time, John also served briefly as a firefighter for the Long Beach, Calif., Fire Department in 2000. He is currently working on a bachelor’s degree in fire administration from Columbia Southern University.

• Donald Tomaso has more than 40 years of fire service experience and has served in the Tukwila Fire Department since 1989, beginning as a firefighter and serving in the positions of lieutenant, captain, battalion chief and fire marshal, his current position. Prior to coming to Tukwila, Tomaso was a firefighter for King County Fire District No. 11 from 1982-1989, and he was a volunteer firefighter and lieutenant, as well as an elected fire commissioner, for King County Fire District No. 18.

• Jay Wittwer has worked the North Las Vegas Fire Department in Nevada since 1987, progressing through the ranks from firefighter (1987-1991), fire engineer (1991-1995), fire captain (1995-2006), administrative battalion chief (2006-2007), to his current position of battalion chief. Wittwer has a bachelor’s degree in fire science and a master of public administration degree, both from Columbia Southern University, and he is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.

The Tukwila Fire Department has 62 uniformed personnel and five civilians. It responds to more than 5,500 calls annually, provides mutual aid to other South King County fire agencies and houses the city’s Emergency Management Division.

Due to the unique nature of Tukwila, with 19,000 residents at night and a daytime population in excess of 150,000 daily, as well as significant commercial and industrial assets, the Tukwila Fire Department responds to a wide variety of complex calls including mega large structures, hazardous materials, light rail, high-rise, critical infrastructure and other hazards.

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