Olivia Snell was hired Monday as chief of the Guemes Island Fire Department, the first woman to serve as chief in the department’s history. She succeeds Gerry Francis, who retired.

The Board of Commissioners of Fire Protection District 17 voted 3-0 to hire Snell. She was one of two candidates for the job; the other was Rick Norrie, a former Coupeville town marshal.

“It was a tough decision, but all the mentoring she did with the outgoing fire chief really paid off for her,” Fire Commissioner Franklin Crawford said Tuesday. “She’s so positive and upbeat; she’s a real top-shelf individual.”

Snell has served as assistant fire chief for eight years, Crawford said. As full-time salaried chief, Snell leads a team of about 18 firefighters, many of whom are EMTs, and the department’s priority now includes recruiting and training more personnel, he said.

The Guemes Island Fire Hall is located at 6310 Guemes Island Road. Equipment includes a marine rescue boat, a fire engine, tanker, brush truck and an ambulance, Crawford said.

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