Lynnwood Fire Chief to head Fire District 1 as two entities combine administrative staffs

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Fire Chief Scott Cockrum
Fire Chief Scott Cockrum

The City of Lynnwood Fire Department and Snohomish County Fire District 1 will combine administrative staffs, and Lynnwood Fire Chief Scott Cockrum will serve as chief of both Lynnwood and Fire District 1, the two agencies announced Tuesday.

Fire District 1 has been without a permanent fire chief since Ed Widdis retired in March.

An agreement to blend the management teams of the two fire agencies into a single administration to oversee fire service operations in South Snohomish County was unanimously approved by the Lynnwood City Council Monday night and the Fire District 1 Board of Commissioners on June 21.

“This blended management agreement will strengthen the partnership between the city and Fire District 1,” Cockrum said. “Ultimately it will maximize efficiencies between the two organizations, which in turn will benefit the residents of South Snohomish County by providing them with enhanced services.”

Cockrum became Lynnwood’s Fire Chief in September 2014 after relocating from Sacramento, Calif., where he was the Deputy Chief of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District.

Fire District 1 has 241 employees and provides staffing at 12 fire stations to serve nearly 200,000 residents in the unincorporated communities of South Snohomish County and the cities of Brier, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace. The Lynnwood Fire Department operates two fire stations with 56 employees to serve over 36,000 residents.

The departments will share administrative duties and responsibilities, but fire and emergency medical response and station staffing will remain unchanged by the agreement. “Citizens in all jurisdictions will continue to receive the service and quick response to fire and emergency medical calls provided by the same firefighters and paramedics,” Fire District 1 Board Chair Jim McGaughey said. “And in the long term, they will gain the benefits of enhanced service and efficiency that come with regionalization.”

Fire District 1 Interim Chief Brad Reading noted that each department “had administrative needs and positions that had been unfilled or unfunded. We realized by sharing staff, both agencies could avoid costs and increase efficiency.

“We’ll be jointly managing operations, emergency medical services, training, public education and working collaboratively on fire marshal issues,” Reading said.

Neither the city nor the fire district will receive monetary compensation, and the agreement notes the city and fire district recognize the mutual benefits of blended management “constitute full and adequate compensation” for services.

Both fire agencies will maintain separate budgets, payrolls and purchasing. Hiring, promoting, daily staffing levels, labor negotiations and discipline issues will also remain separate.

According to Tuesday’s announcement, the blended management agreement will be in effect for two years, with one-year extensions. The two-year time frame “will give the City of Lynnwood and Fire District 1 an opportunity to continue exploring the idea of establishing a regional fire service delivery model to serve the residents of South Snohomish County,” the announcement said.

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