ANACORTES — The Anacortes City Council will be asked Monday to confirm Bill Harris as the city’s new fire chief.
Anacortes Mayor Laurie Gere selected Harris, battalion chief at Sunnyside Fire Department in Yakima County, to succeed interim Fire Chief Mike Ganz, who has been filling in since January. The last full-time fire chief, Dave Oliveri, departed in October.
City Council confirmation is expected because members of the council participated in the interview process. Harris is expected to start on the job Tuesday.
“I look at him as someone who can provide vision and leadership for the department,” Gere said.
Harris was one of nine applicants for the position. He will be paid $120,000 a year, according to city Administrative Services Director Emily Schuh.
Harris, 45, has a bachelor’s degree in fire administration from Eastern Oregon University. He started his firefighter career in Dallas, Oregon, a city of 15,000 located west of Salem. He has been with the Sunnyside department since 1999, and as battalion chief has filled that department’s second highest-ranking position.
Harris said Anacortes and Sunnyside are similar in population and fire department staffing, although Sunnyside has 40 volunteers in addition to its 20 full-time firefighters.
“The department has done a great job of planning,” he said of Anacortes. “My goal is to identify what the future holds and understand expected growth.”
The challenges of growth are looming.
In addition to fire and EMS, or emergency medical services, response within city limits, the Anacortes department assists neighboring departments as needed and provides EMS services to an area that extends east to Best Road.
Gere said the department was dispatched to 800 fire calls and 4,000 medical calls last year.
Assistant Chief Jack Kennedy told the City Council earlier this year that the department needs to increase staffing on initial response from two to three firefighters to improve rescue capabilities.