What fire chiefs are paid

It’s a tough time for the fire service.

The bulk of funding comes from property taxes, and property values have plummeted. While fire departments consider cuts or eye new taxes, chiefs’ salaries are drawing more attention.

Those at the helm of Snohomish County’s biggest fire departments make $110,000 to $160,000 a year. Their salaries eclipse those of most mayors but are in line with county government’s highest-paid employees. Compensation packages for fire chiefs vary by community.

Fire chief salaries must be competitive in the marketplace and reflect the worth of their duties, said Dee Emami, a human resources official for Ventura County, Calif., who works with fire personnel.

Being chief is an executive-level job, involving complicated decisions about budgeting, personnel and deployment of emergency resources, Emami said. “It’s a huge responsibility,” she said. “You’re talking about lives.”

Even at tiny, rural departments where crews volunteer, most fire chiefs receive stipends or part-time pay.

Chief compensation is set in part by state and federal law. Medical benefits vary depending on coverage offered for family. Benefits also may include allotments for Medicare, retirement and life insurance.

Some chiefs have plans for deferred taxation on retirement savings, similar to a 401(k). They can put a limited amount in an account annually. Some agencies match or partially match contributions.

Chiefs generally can’t draw overtime pay.

Agency Chief Salary Medical benefits
Fire District 1 (south county) Ed Widdis $159,878 $17,560
Fire District 7 (Clearview) Gary Meek $155,719 $17,930
Everett Fire Department Murray Gordon $145,776 $5,760
Fire District 8 (Lake Stevens) Dave Lingenfelter $145,221 $15,210
Marysville Fire District Greg Corn $140,872 $16,510
Fire District 3 (Monroe) Jamie Silva $138,842 $19,817
Arlington Fire Department Bruce Stedman $125,592 $20,000
Fire District 4 (Snohomish) Mark Collins $122,390 $5,692
North County Regional Fire Authority Dale Fulfs $116,784 $17,226
Fire District 22 (Getchell) Travis Hots $110,323 $24,874
Fire District 17 (Granite Falls) Jim Haverfield $110,160 $27,135
Mukilteo Fire Department Mike Springer $109,395 $22,089
Lynnwood Fire Department (Vacant) $115,905-$146,661 Varies

More about compensation for local public officials

Mayoral salaries

County official salaries

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