The environment of the central Kenai Peninsula and the activities of Central Emergency Services are what attracted the new chief to Alaska.
Chris Mokracek, 41, is scheduled to take command of the CES firefighters and paramedics April 4, replacing Jeff Tucker, who resigned suddenly in November.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dale Bagley and Tucker declined to comment at the time on a reason for Tucker's exit, only 2 1/2 years after he was hired as chief.
Mokracek, who has been in fire-fighting services for 23 years, comes to the peninsula from Washington's Olympic Peninsula, where he was fire chief and emergency medical services coordinator of Grays Harbor District No. 2 for the past 3 1/2 years.
Prior to that position, he served for 15 years with the Mono County Fire Services department on the Eastern Slope of the Sierras in California.
He also worked with the Mammoth Lakes (Calif.) Fire Department in the mountain ski resort town and in Los Angeles County.
"The (CES) department's variety of activities and the geography and the types of calls they respond to are similar to the area in Mono County," Mokracek said by phone from Washington on Tuesday.
"I felt my experience with responding to calls in Mono County is similar to CES's needs. The weather, the environment and the terrain it's a similar geography," he said.
"The agency and myself complement each other."
Mokracek said his decision to accept the CES offer was a family decision made by him, his wife, Maureen, and their three children, Matthew, 16, Joshua, 14, and Sarah, 9. The family enjoys snow skiing and snowboarding, he said.
Steve O'Connor, who has been serving as interim chief of CES since Tucker left, said Mokracek was one of two of the applicants who responded to a national ad for a new chief and was invited up to Alaska for face-to-face interviews with Bagley and the CES Board of Directors.
When asked how he felt about relinquishing the CES helm, O'Connor said, "That means I can retire."
O'Connor actually retired Sept. 1, 2004, but was asked to come back to work as interim chief when Tucker left.
O'Connor is now scheduled to retire in June after serving for 33 years in fire fighting 10 years in Oregon and 23 in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
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