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The new fire chief in town

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East Pierce Fire and Rescue recently gained a major asset with the hiring of new Fire Chief Bud Backer, former Deputy Chief of Eastside Fire and Rescue.

Backer’s time at Eastside Fire and Rescue is far from the only experience he has in the field. His journey began in 1985 as a volunteer firefighter in Richland, and began to focus on the design of fire protection systems.

In 1988, Backer moved to the west side to become a firefighter inspector in Duvall, where he rose through the ranks and eventually became chief in 1998.

Having an itch to work in a larger department, Backer became the deputy chief of operations in Woodinville in 2000, where he remained until 2009, when he transferred to Eastside Fire and Rescue.

“Bud is skilled in all aspects of the job. He embodies all the things we are looking for,” East Pierce Commissioner Chair Dale Mitchell said in a press release.

Backer was attracted to the position due to the flexibility of the East Pierce system and the ability to implement a long term-strategy for the department.

He was selected from a pool of 21 applicants and underwent rigorous interviews from both his peers and the community.

“The inclusive process for selecting a new chief included input from both the community and fire district personnel,” Mitchell said.

Backer is a firm believer that East Pierce’s regional system is the future of firefighting.

 

“Everyone annexed in has a commitment to regional delivery services, and in my opinion that’s the way to do it. It’s the most cost effective manner to take care of the public. That’s what made East Pierce attractive – they’re committed to having one board of fire commissioners to work out and set up a more stable and political standpoint. The ability to succeed in an organization like that is much more probable,” Backer said.

With four cities to watch over, communication is a difficult feat to accomplish, but one of Backer’s primary goals is to facilitate conversation with every part of the service area, including Milton and Edgewood.

“[Communication] is something that I realize needs to happen. Even when you have the fire service, you still need to have the communication. Communities need to know the direction you’re heading in and ask them is there anything we’re doing here that’s going to cause a problem and get their involvement,” Backer said.

Of course, East Pierce talking to the cities they serve isn’t the only communication issue that comes up when you are combining several different departments together.

“That ability to build collaboration is something that’s important. Where East Pierce is having to bring all these departments together, you bring different cultures together and some may clash but they are working through processes to build that team, so to speak. I think it’s similar to an NFL team that has a lot of new players on it and now they’re trying to bring them together as a team themselves. I have experience bringing people together from different areas getting them to gel as a cohesive unit,” Backer said.

The other big benefit to joining up with East Pierce is the lovely community Backer now gets to be a part of.

“I’m really looking forward to getting down there. We’re looking forward to becoming part of the community and blending right in with everybody. We’re excited about the opportunity,” Backer said. “I have hard work in front of me and I think I’m going to enjoy diving in and helping everyone get on their feet.”

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