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Senter tapped as SK's new fire chief

The Kitsap County Fire District 7 Board of Commissioners announced Thursday night that they have offered retiring Chief Mike Brown's position to Assistant Fire Chief Wayne Senter.

“I am truly honored,” Senter said, attributing his individual achievement to the people who have worked for and with him for seven years. “I’m really pleased to be given the opportunity to lead these people."

Senter will take over for Brown as of Jan. 1, said Commissioner Rick Metzer, provided the “contract negotiations, background check, medical exam” and other procedures are completed successfully.

Senter, who joined the district as assistant chief in 1997 after serving in the Auburn Fire Department for 17 years, was chosen from three final in-house candidates.

The commissioners originally selected four candidates, but one removed himself from consideration for personal reasons.

“It was a long (selection) process, but it was a really good process,” said Commissioner Dusty Wiley Thursday night. “We had three really good candidates and a lot of good public input. We feel we made the right choice, and we’re looking forward to moving on.”

Wiley added that the commissioners had been commended for limiting the search for a new chief to district employees.

Although earlier in the chief selection process some members of the board expressed interest in hiring a consultant, Commissioner Dave Gelsleichter said the board ultimately decided “we could easily do it ourselves,” and voted 4-1 to keep the search in-house, with Commissioner Darla Hartley the only dissenting vote.

Senter has a bachelors degree from Southern Illinois University and has served as fire marshal, fire prevention inspector and a public information officer. He chairs numerous fire and safety committees and has served as president of the Port Orchard Rotary and several South Kitsap School District councils and committees, including the Developmental Assets Steering Committee.

According to the job description, the chief is not only responsible for supervising all employees and employee relations, but for supervising the maintenance, use and replacement of all facilities and equipment.

The chief is an appointed public official who reports directly to the Board of Commissioners, and according to the description, must have the ability to communicate well with not only employees and the board, but with numerous government officials and representatives, along with media and other entities.

The latest job description was created after the board collected input from district personnel and its own members, but differs only slightly from the last version, which was approved in 1992.

The biggest change is in the qualifications section. The old description required all candidates to have at least an associate of arts degree in fire science and/or public administration. The new description ups the stakes slightly, requiring a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

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