South County Fire Commissioner Ed Widdis, right, swears in Fire Chief Bob Eastman on April 2, 2024. (Photo provided by South County Fire).

South County Fire Commissioner Ed Widdis, right, swears in Fire Chief Bob Eastman on April 2, 2024. (Photo provided by South County Fire).

Snohomish County’s biggest fire district has a new chief

Bob Eastman will oversee 350 firefighters at South County Fire, taking over for Chief Thad Hovis.

EVERETT — A Snohomish County firefighter of 28 years is the new chief for South County Fire.

Bob Eastman, who previously served as assistant chief, was sworn in last week at a Board of Commissioners meeting for the regional fire authority. He replaces former chief Thad Hovis, who got the top job in 2020. Hovis will serve as a transitional consultant until his retirement July 1.

Hovis became chief in 2020 after a 25-year career in fire service.

South County Fire is the largest fire district in the county, serving more than 300,000 residents in Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and unincorporated south Snohomish County.

“Chief Eastman has a wealth of experience and knowledge that will help South County Fire meet the challenges of the future,” Board Chair Jim Kenny said in a press release. “He has been a valued member of our senior leadership team for many years, and now he will lead South County Fire in delivering great service to our community.”

Eastman began his career in 1984 in Minnesota. He served in the Coast Guard from 1987 to 1991 where he completed paramedic training, and later served in the Air National Guard from 1994 to 2017.

In 1996, what was then known as Snohomish County Fire District 1 hired Eastman as a firefighter and paramedic, according to the press release.

He served on a team that drafted the Regional Fire Authority Plan that led to the creation of South County Fire in 2017 after voter approval.

“The fire service is changing with technology developments, and Chief Eastman’s expertise in planning for the future will make our community safer over the next decade,”Kenny said.

During the pandemic in 2020, Eastman worked in the Emergency Operations Center in Everett, where he helped secure personal protective equipment and develop plans for mass vaccination sites.

In his role as the district’s chief executive, Eastman will oversee 350 firefighters.

Maya Tizon: 425-339-3434;; Twitter: @mayatizon.

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