Reported by Rikki King / Herald staff
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.
|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|