Monroe picks new fire chief

MONROE – Jamie Silva has worked his way through the fire department in Monroe for nearly 20 years. Silva was recently named the new fire chief.

Silva, 38, grew up in the area and worked as a volunteer firefighter for Snohomish County Fire District 3 for a year before he was hired full time in 1988.

Silva was a battalion chief for seven years. He was assistant fire chief when former chief Steve Kunkle took a six-month leave of absence.

Fire commissioners and City Council members, who make up the joint fire board, selected Silva to be interim chief while Kunkle was gone. In October the board decided not to extend Kunkle’s leave of absence. It also decided not to start a formal search for a chief.

“We wanted to evaluate Jamie over those six months,” board chairman Bill Snyder said. “We took the pulse of the work groups, and the response was overwhelming.”

In his short time as interim chief, Silva has resolved some ongoing labor issues that have troubled the district in the past, Snyder said.

He said he’s pleased the district didn’t have to go through an extensive search for a new chief. Those searches can be costly and don’t always produce candidates who are a good fit, the longtime commissioner said.

Snyder said it’s important the district found a qualified candidate with so much experience in Monroe.

“We want someone to be here for awhile,” Snyder said. “He also has a lot of energy.”

Silva said he is looking forward to leading the district, which, like so many in the area, is facing financial challenges. “We’re trying to give equal or better service with less,” he said.

The district serves about 25,000 residents in 55 square miles, including the city of Monroe. There are about 30 full-time firefighters and 35 volunteers.

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