After 15 years with the Lynnwood Fire Department, and more than 44 years in the field, Fire Chief Gary Olson is retiring.
He told us his decision was twofold. First is the city’s budget woes. Olson said by voluntarily leaving his position, it will free up money for other fire services.
“By cutting the overhead, the city can keep firefighters responding to emergencies with an appropriate level of service. Hopefully, the utilizing of interim chiefs for a year to 18 months – which is and has been used by other fire departments to save money on overhead – can work here.”
Secondly, at age 70, he said it’s time to give other highly qualified staff within the department a chance to show their leadership.
Olson started his career in Long Beach, Calif. in 1967, where he rose in the ranks of firefighter, paramedic, captain, battalion chief, training director and eventually deputy chief. He was hired as assistant chief in Lynnwood in 1996 and appointed to fire chief in 2003.
Olson told us the people are what he’ll miss most. “Fire department, city, county, committee people are what have made this profession so interesting and rewarding for me and they are what I will miss,” he said.
His immediate plans including traveling with his wife Sandy of 46 years, including trips to China and a visit to Pearl Harbor for the 70th anniversary of the Dec. 7 attack.
“Much of what we do in the future will relate to our family,” he added. “We had three sons and they are all three parents providing us with five grandchildren and three great daughters. Family events and travel are the immediate future – then we will see what comes our way!”
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