New Fire District 21 chief will wear two hats

ARLINGTON — Snohomish County Fire District 21, serving the rural Arlington area, has changed fire chiefs.

The district’s board of commissioners in late 2013 decided not to renew former chief Rick Isler’s contract.

They’ve hired Travis Hots as the new fire chief. Hots, 37, also serves as chief for Fire District 22 in the Getchell area.

“He brings a tremendous skill set, that’s for sure,” said Eric Nordstrom, a fire commissioner and volunteer firefighter with District 21.

Hots is “one of the most qualified and ambitious chiefs around,” Nordstrom said.

Through a contract, the two fire districts are splitting the cost of Hots’ salary and benefits. As Getchell chief, he was paid about $110,000 a year. His salary has not changed.

Isler was notified in writing of the decision Nov. 14, according to documents obtained by The Herald through a public records request. The vote was unanimous among the three commissioners.

“We waited until our previous chief’s contract was up, and we just felt that, as a board, it was the right time for us to move into a new era of leadership,” Nordstrom said in an interview. “We really appreciated Chief Isler’s years of steadfast dedication, and he was a great chief for us over the past several years.”

Isler’s last day was Dec. 31. He served the fire district for more than 30 years. He started as a volunteer firefighter and became assistant chief, and then fire chief for about four years, documents show.

The commissioners also signed a letter dated Dec. 27 saying that Isler helped the fire district grow, and that he was well-respected as chief. There was no legal separation agreement, according to the district.

Fire District 21 serves about 8,200 people over 70 square miles surrounding Arlington city limits. The 2014 budget is about $1 million.

The district has roughly 30 volunteer firefighters. They work closely with the Arlington Fire Department.

The district in years past was called “Arlington Heights” by its neighbors. A couple of years ago, it was rebranded as “Arlington Rural” to better describe the area it serves.

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

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