Chief Gary Faucett
The Lake Stevens Fire District Commissioners have voted to terminate their contract with Lake Stevens Fire District Chief Gary Faucett.
The decision to fire the chief, using the ‘no cause’ clause in his contract, came during a Sept. 9 meeting.
“The board majority determined it was time to make a change with new leadership,” Lake Stevens Fire Commissioner Troy Elmore said. “A provision within the fire chief’s contract allowed for a termination of the contract early without cause. The board voted to exercise the clause in the contract in the interest of moving the department forward.”
Lake Stevens’ three Fire Commissioners, Elmore, Dan Lorentzen and Vern Foster had been holding executive meetings over the prior three-week period before taking a vote whether or not to terminate Faucett’s contract.
The vote was 2-0 with Foster choosing to abstain.
“Chief Faucett was released from his contract without cause, meaning there is no specific issue. The majority of the board felt we needed a change, and this was the method chosen to accomplish that change,” Foster said. “ I could not vote in favor of the termination because I felt it was premature, and wanted to see other options explored. But, after several hours of deliberation, I could sense that we had reached an impasse and elected to abstain from the vote.”
Deputy Chief Dave Lingenfelter has stepped in as Interim Fire Chief.
“Deputy Chief Lingenfelter will fill the role of Fire Chief for the immediate future. Chief Lingenfelter has been with the department for over 16 years and has extensive functional knowledge of both the administration as well as emergency operations,” Elmore said. “We have every confidence in his ability as well as the rest of the administrative team.”
Lingenfelter has tried to make the transition as smooth as possible.
“We are flying straight ahead and everything is going fine at the department,” he said. “My focus is making sure things continue to run smoothly.”
Lingenfelter said that he doesn’t know much about the reasons for the termination, only that each side wanted to move forward in different directions.
“It was simply a directional path that the department was wanting to take, which was different than the chief wanted to go.”
The fire district sent out a statement on Sept. 14 stating the same reasons.
“In an effort to redirect the course of Lake Stevens Fire, the Board of Commissioners chose to exercise the provision in the Fire Chief’s contract to terminate without cause at a Special Commissioner Meeting held on September 9, 2010,” the statement reads. “Members of Lake Stevens Fire wish Chief Faucett well in his future endeavors and appreciate the remarkable progress the department has made over the last five years under his leadership. His 31 plus years in fire service is quite a legacy.”
Faucett started his over 31-year career in Mason County and served in South Kitsap before coming to lead the Fire District in Lake Stevens in 2005.
“I started my fire service career in 1976 as a dispatcher in Mason County and became a paramedic in 1979 at South Kitsap Fire and Rescue,” Faucett said. “ I was hired as Fire Chief at Lake Stevens April of 2005 under a five year contract. In 2009 the commissioners wanted to sign me to another five year contract and I agreed to do so.”
For now, Faucett is looking into his options for the future.
“It is too soon to tell (what will happen now),” Faucett said. “I am considering my options with my attorney. Naomi and I draw much strength from our faith and that is sustaining us now.”
Elmore wishes the best for Faucett and acknowledges all he has done for the fire district in the past five years.
“Mr. Faucett’s achievements as Fire Chief over the past five years have been commendable. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and wish only the best with his future endeavors,” he said.
The fire district continues to move forward also.
“The future of the district is in good hands, in part because Chief Faucett has put together a solid staff to carry us forward. I expect the board to select a replacement that will pick up where Chief Faucett has left off and continue to make Lake Stevens Fire an example for other districts to follow,” Foster said.“