City Manager Names Acting Yakima Fire Chief to Replace Retiring Chief
Yakima Deputy Fire Chief Bob Stewart has been appointed by Yakima City Manager Tony O’Rourke to serve as Acting Chief once current Chief Dave Willson retires on January 3rd, 2014.
Stewart , who has spent his entire career with the Yakima Fire Department will assume his role as Acting Chief on January 4th. O’Rourke will evaluate Stewart’s performance over a six-month period after which a decision will be made regarding filling the Chief position on a more permanent basis.
“I’m fully confident that Bob will be able to successfully take on the additional responsibilities and challenges that come with leading Central Washington’s largest fire department,” said O’Rourke. “He has proven to be an outstanding leader, administrator, and motivator during what has been a stellar career with the Yakima Fire Department. I’m convinced that Bob is the right person to guide the department through the next stage of its evolution and to build on the success that Chief Willson has achieved,” said O’Rourke.
Last Wednesday O’Rourke and other senior City staff, along with two Yakima area fire chiefs, interviewed Stewart, YFD Deputy Chief Mark Soptich, YFD Captain Tom Schneider, YFD Captain Ted Vander Houwen, and YFD Captain Bruce Drollinger. O’Rourke and Willson then conducted finalist interviews with Stewart and Soptich last Friday. Followingthat, O’Rourke made his decision to appoint Stewart Acting Chief.
Stewart started with the YFD as a Firefighter in June 1994, and worked his way up the latter. He worked in an acting capacity as both a Deputy Chief and Battalion Chief while primarily serving as a Line Captain. In July 2007, he was promoted to Deputy Chief.
Steward said “I’m honored to have been given the opportunity to take the Yakima Fire Department to the next level, filling Chief Willson’s shoes will certainly be no easy task, but I know that together with the talented group of firefighters, command staff, and support personnel that the department is blessed to have, we’ll be able to continue to provide the high quality service the Yakima community expects and deserves.”
Earlier this month Wilson announced he would retire on the 30th anniversary of the day he was hired by the YFD, which is January 3rd.