CLEAR LAKE — After more than a decade at the helm of two Skagit County fire districts, Brett Berg has stepped down as chief of Fire District 4.
Brett Berg and his wife Tracy, who is the district’s secretary, ended their tenure Thursday with the district, which serves Clear Lake.
Brett Berg was already the chief of Skagit County Fire District 9, which serves Big Lake, when he took the reins of the Clear Lake department in 2008.
Tracy Berg is also the secretary of District 9, as well as two others.
Because of the difficulty in leading multiple departments, the Bergs have decided to take a step back and have more time with each other.
In the years since Brett Berg accepted the District 4 position, the two departments have trained and responded to incidents together, essentially operating as one.
“Departments working together is the way of the future,” Fire District 4 Commissioner Gary Friend said.
In 2017, the two districts put forward a proposal to officially join the two departments as a regional fire authority under the name Lakeside Fire and Rescue.
Voters in the districts, however, rejected the proposal.
“We are great firefighters, but at the end of the day we are not great salespeople,” Brett Berg said.
During his tenure, Brett Berg helped the volunteer department acquire two new trucks, an aid car, bunker gear and rescue equipment, and improved the community’s insurance rating.
He also established the department’s residency program, which means two volunteers are at the station at all times.
Next week, Brett Berg said the department will benefit from new air packs, thanks to a federal grant he helped get.
“He’s brought us up to the high quality department we are now,” District 4 Commissioner John Matterand said.
Aside from his leadership as chief, the commissioners said they will miss the dedication the Bergs brought to the department.
Together, the two have put thousands of miles on some of the department’s vehicles in the process of bringing them to Clear Lake.
“It’s going to be hard to find someone (like them),” Friend said.
Brett Berg said he appreciated the trust the commissioners put in him, allowing him to make changes to the department.
Both Bergs will continue their involvement in the Big Lake department, they said.
“That’s where I’ve been for (nearly) 30 years,” Brett Berg said. “That’s kind of my home.”
While he intends to remain close, he said the thing he will miss about the Clear Lake department are the people.
“It’s got some great firefighters,” he said. “And it’s a great community.”
The commissioners will spend the next several months looking for a replacement for Brett Berg, Friend said.
Despite the failure of the regional fire authority proposal, the new chief will be required to continue the working partnership with the Big Lake department, he said.
“We’re not willing to back up on that,” Friend said.