Chief of north county fire authority to retire

WARM BEACH — The chief of the North County Regional Fire Authority has announced plans to retire.

Dale Fulfs, 56, notified the board of commissioners on Wednesday. He is using up vacation time until late July.

The chief’s contract required a 30-day notice for resignation, board chairman Richard Bratland said Friday. Fulfs had been on medical leave since earlier this month.

Fulfs has been chief of the fire authority since it was formed about six years ago. The authority merged two fire districts that served the areas between Arlington and Stanwood and the Snohomish-Skagit county line.

Under Fulfs’ leadership, the fire authority avoided debt and built a reserve fund, Bratland said.

“I think he’s done a wonderful job for the fire authority,” Bratland said. “He is dedicated to the community and he was able to keep our stuff on track.”

The chief’s departure comes amid signs of turmoil at the agency, which serves about 22,000 people living in 105 square miles, including Warm Beach and Stanwood.

The state Auditor’s Office is investigating a May 27 complaint that accused the commissioners of violating the Open Public Meetings Act.

If the complaint is found to hold water, the issue could be folded into the agency’s next routine audit, scheduled for later this year, auditor’s office spokesman Thomas Shapley said.

The complaint alleged that commissioners were meeting illegally, without notifying the public, Bratland said.

The fire authority consulted with an attorney on the matter.

“That’s actually been discussed and taken care of,” he said.

Other issues at the agency include pending labor grievances and the news this week that commissioner Stuart Lervick had resigned. Lervick served on the board for decades, Bratland said.

Lervick filed the paperwork with the district secretary and did not attend this past week’s meeting, Bratland said.

Another commissioner spot remains open as well after the death of former commissioner Don Wright earlier this year.

The board is governed by six commissioners. Traditionally, three are drawn from within the boundaries of each of the former fire districts. The fire authority signed a contract to also serve the city of Stanwood in 2012.

The board collected applications for Wright’s position but was unable to reach a consensus, Bratland said. The decision was then referred to the Snohomish County Council, which is expected to conduct interviews later this summer.

The fire authority is accepting applications for Lervick’s position. Commissioners are paid $114 per meeting with annual limits set by state law.

The commissioners also hope to name an interim fire chief in the coming weeks, Bratland said. They are aiming for an internal appointment, with input from labor leaders.

They plan to advertise the opening for a permanent chief, Bratland said. The position pays about $117,000 a year.

The fire authority employs roughly 26 professional firefighters, in addition to volunteers and part-time staff, battalion chief Joel Smith said.

Fulfs is a longtime local firefighter who also served as the fire chief in the former Bryant district. His father had also served as the chief.

He did not answer calls placed to his department cellphone.

Potential fire commissioner applicants should contact 360-652-1246, or stop by the headquarters at 19727 Marine Drive in Warm Beach.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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