Eric Hicks, the Everett Fire Department’s first African-American fire chief, is leaving to take a job closer to his home in King County. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Everett’s fire chief leaving for another post after 4 months

EVERETT — It wasn’t a long tenure.

Everett Fire Chief Eric Hicks has notified city leaders that he has accepted a position as chief of the Skyway Fire Department in King County. He’d been appointed chief in Everett following Murray Gordon’s retirement in January. His last day is Friday.

“It has been an honor to serve Everett Fire and this incredible community for the past 18 years,” Hicks said in a press release. “I began my career in the fire service with Skyway, and I am looking forward to returning to the department as its chief.”

In a Wednesday morning email to Everett firefighters, Hicks described the decision to leave as “incredibly difficult…but one that I have made after extensive reflection.”

He added: “I understand my departure is untimely in a time when our department is beginning to turn around.”

Hicks could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

He held a variety of roles during his time in Everett, including as fire inspector, investigator, assistant chief and fire marshal.

Hicks had informed city leaders a few weeks ago that he was interested in the Skyway opening, said Meghan Pembroke, a city spokeswoman. Mayor Ray Stephanson will make an interim appointment for the remainder of the year.

No decision has been made if the interim chief will be someone coming out of retirement or from within the existing department.

Stephanson has decided to leave it to the next mayor to fill the post. Whoever is named will oversee a department of 190 employees.

For Hicks, the new job will be a homecoming of sorts. He began volunteering at the Skyway department when he was 19 and was hired full time four years later.

“It was like I won the lotto,” he said in a Skyway Fire Department press release. The Skyway department also is known as King County Fire District 20.

The new job means a shorter commute. Hicks and his wife, Agnes, live in south King County where they raised two sons who are now in college.

Hicks grew up in south Seattle and graduated from Renton High School in 1989. When young, he worked as a garbage man, just like his father, grandfather and uncles had done.

He was hired in Everett in 1999 and worked from Fire Station 1 downtown for a decade. After a serious muscle injury at work, he became a fire inspector and investigator.

Hicks became an assistant fire marshal in 2012 and later fire marshal.

As Everett’s chief, he received a salary of $147,156.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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