Paramedic becomes 3rd fire district commissioner

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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QUILCENE — After an extended period of political turmoil, the Quilcene fire district board is out of the shadow of a recall election, fully seated and ready to tackle budget and administrative issues.

Voters approved the recall of Commissioners Mike Whittaker and Dave Ward, who were accused of falsifying records, in a Nov. 13 special election.

Jefferson County commissioners
Dec. 3 named Gary Phillips to fill Whittaker’s term on the board of what’s officially known as Jefferson Fire District No. 2.

Now with a quorum of two commissioners, Phillips and commission Chair Herb Beck selected Debbie Randall, a professional paramedic with East Jefferson Fire-Rescue, to complete Ward’s term.

Randall, 48, served as an appointed commissioner for six months in 2011 and was defeated by Beck for a full term in November that year by only a five-vote margin.

Along with Phillips, she was one of two applicants for the first open position and was the only applicant for the second.

An employee of East Jefferson Fire-Rescue — or Fire District No. 1 — since 2008, she is the only active professional paramedic on the North Olympic Peninsula to serve as a fire commissioner, which she said gives her an understanding of departmental needs.

“I have a good knowledge of current activity across all of the fire departments,” she said.

“I know about all the gear that we use and the training requirements.

“In [East Jefferson Fire-Rescue], I am not the one making the rules but am very familiar with standard operating procedures.”

Randall said the biggest issues facing the Quilcene board involve the budget — the department is spending more than it is taking in — and the selection of a new chief.

She said one depends on the other: The department might not want to enter into a long-term contract with a new chief if the budget’s red ink isn’t resolved.

A special budget meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the fire station, 70 Herbert St.

Randall said she doesn’t expect any scheduling conflicts between her day job and the monthly commissioner meetings, but if conflicts occur, she will use accrued vacation time.

Randall said the Quilcene fire community is ready to move on from the controversy that has shadowed the department for nearly three years.

“There is a very different attitude from the board,” Randall said of last Monday’s meeting.

“It’s a more positive vibe. The whole department is excited and rejuvenated by the desire on everyone’s part to cooperate and move forward.”

Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at

Last modified: December 12. 2012 5:57PM
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