The recent retirements of some high-ranking firefighters at Central Emergency Services have paved the way for the promotion of the assistant fire marshal to assistant chief and one firefighter to training officer.
Gordon Orth, who had been assistant fire marshal for two years, is now the assistant chief, and John Evans, a relative newcomer to CES, has moved into the training officer position.
Orth has steadily moved up through the ranks, beginning as an on-call volunteer 20 years ago. He progressed to the position of engineer and then assistant fire marshal.
Since CES Chief Chris Mokracek came on board earlier this year, the new assistant chief position is actually an operations chief, according to Orth.
His duties include coordinating activities between shifts, overseeing department captains, managing fire fighting and medical response at all major incidents and serving as acting chief in Mokracek's absence.
Orth also will oversee the department's equipment at fire stations in Soldotna, Sterling, Kalifornsky Beach, Funny River and, if approved and built, Kasilof.
"I never really aspired to be in an officer's position," Orth said. "It just worked out that way."
Evans, who grew up in Alaska, followed through on a childhood dream of becoming a firefighter.
With his mother and an aunt working as emergency medical service responders, Evans said he was always intrigued by what they did.
In the late 1980s, he worked in a variety of medical care jobs in industrial EMS, as a medical officer on a processing vessel in the Bering Sea and as a medic on the North Slope.
He moved away from Alaska for a time, working as a firefighter and EMS medic in Denver and Indiana, and said he eagerly applied when CES openings occurred.
As a certifying officer for the state of Alaska, he has researched training curricula and helped other fire departments become certified.
A Fire Instructor 3, the highest level of instructor, he has completed the Fire Service Instructor course and learned to coordinate training courses and develop curriculum.
"And my education isn't stopping," Evans said.
With Mokracek recently moving to the Kenai Peninsula, he said he wanted to promote someone from within the department to the assistant chief position, "and Gordon's name was one that always floated to the top."
"In a general view, I've given (Orth and Evans) my visions for the jobs, and I'm letting them design their positions," Mok-racek said.
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