ECFR interim fire chief’s last day is Friday

Dean Thornberry’s temporary successor could be hired next week

Interim Chief Dean Thornberry

East County Fire and Rescue will lose its current interim fire chief earlier than planned.

ECFR Commission President Martha Martin confirmed Monday that Dean Thornberry’s last day would be Friday, Nov. 13.

Thornberry, 55, announced five months ago that he would continue working until the end of his contract — Dec. 31.

“My plan is to retire from the fire service at that time,” he said in his notice of intent to resign dated June 9. “The intent of this early notice is to give the board ample time to determine a path forward, and also have time to assist you with the transition.”

Thornberry could not immediately be reached for comment Monday about his decision to depart 1.5 months early. He has been the interim fire chief since Jan. 8, when the commissioners voted to fire then Chief Scott Koehler without cause.

Thornberry, a lifelong Clark County resident, has been an employee of the district since December 2003, when he was hired as battalion chief.

The district began its process to find a permanent replacement for Thornberry in July, when an Executive Search Committee was formed. Its members include Thornberry, as well as commissioners Michael Taggart and Sherry Petty.

In mid-September, the district entered into a $13,250 contract with executive search firm Emergency Services Consulting International, which is based in Wilsonville, Oregon.

Martin said ESCI officials do not expect a permanent fire chief to be hired until February.

With Thornberry’s time at ECFR rapidly coming to an end, on Nov. 13 the ECFR Executive Search Committee will meet with a person being recommended by ECSI, not currently affiliated with the district, to serve on an interim basis until a permanent chief can be selected.

The commission could take action on that recommendation during its next regular meeting Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m., at Station 91, 600 N.E. 267th Ave., in Camas.

According to Martin, a transition meeting was held with current ECFR staff last week to discuss what would happen during the few days between when Thornberry leaves and a new interim is on board.

“We still have our processes in place,” she said. “Our board and our staff and our three captains all know what to do. Everything will be managed well, and it will only be a short time. We are following all of our policies to the letter, and we are going to be fine.”

ECFR currently has eight full-time and five part-time paid firefighters, in addition to 28 volunteers who provide fire protection and emergency medical service response to the 10,000 residents who live within the 60 square miles of unincorporated area that are north of and east of the cities of Camas and Washougal.