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SKFR’s deputy chief moves north
After ‘growing up’ in SK’s fire department, Dan Olson takes the chief position
Sometimes, you just need to spread your wings.
After growing up in South Kitsap and spending 25 years serving the community as a firefighter, Dan Olson is moving on — both up the career ladder and up north to Poulsbo.
“I have literally grown up in this fire department,” said Olson, 45, who graduated from South Kitsap High School in 1981 and started working for South Kitsap Fire and Rescue — then called Fire District 7 — as a volunteer in 1982.
Two years later, he earned a position as a firefighter.
“I have lived here most of my life, and one of the largest blessings in my life is being able to help people in our community, and make a difference in their lives in critical situations,” he said, admitting that it can also be a mixed blessing to witness so many emergencies, especially when you often know the victims. “It is difficult to go out and see things — they are travesties. But it is an honor to be able to provide that service.”
It was such an honor, Olson says, that for 25 years he has happily, even eagerly, showed up for work.
“I never left home in the morning and said, ‘Ugh, I’m going to work,’” said Olson, who worked for former chiefs Bill Meigs and Mike Brown before being appointed deputy chief to current SKFR Chief Wayne Senter.
This week, however, will be Olson’s last in SKFR as he prepares to don the chief’s hat for the Poulsbo Fire Department after officially signing his new contract July 30.
“It’s a huge change for us to have a new leawder,” said Poulsbo Fire Battalion Chief Chris Morrison, who has been with the department 28 years. “We’re all excited to see his insight, wisdom and leadership in the fire service and what he will do leading us in the future.”
Olson takes over for Jim Shields, who served the department for 39 years, 23 of those as chief.
“Chief Shields led us to a point of stability, we’ve just passed two levies, our contracts are all in place, we’ve got a great staff — it’s the perfect time for a shifting of leadership,” said Conrad Green, North Kitsap fire commissioner. “Dan Olson is an exceptional leader.”
To become a good chief, Olson says he will draw on qualities he absorbed from all of the chiefs he has worked with and learned from.
“Part of them is in me, and I’m bringing it to Poulsbo,” he said, explaining that while it will not be easy to leave his second home, he is excited to start a new chapter.
Which won’t even involve moving, since Olson and his family — which includes wife Brenda, an 8-year-old son and 10-year-old twin daughters (with another pair of 22-year-old daughters on their own) — moved to Poulsbo three years ago after building a home there.
“I will always be connected (to South Kitsap),” Olson said, explaining that both his parents and his 93-year-old grandfather, who watched last week as his grandson accepted his new position, still live in the area.
Before he officially moves north, Olson said he will be having lunch with the department today, and will also enjoy a very special breakfast.
“Two other SKFR firefighters, Lt. George Roller and Lt. Chuck Hislop, graduated from SKHS with me in 1981, and we try and get together regularly for breakfast,” Olson said, adding that it will be these people, and all the others, that he will miss the most. “But this is a great opportunity, and it is the right thing for me and my family.”
North Kitsap Herald staff writer Kelly Joines contributed to this report.