As the workload of Central Emergency Services grows and the department strives to be the best combination full-time and volunteer on-call department in the state, several new officer positions have been created.
Gordon Orth, who has been a full-time engineer and EMT 3 since 1990, is now the new assistant fire marshal, reporting directly to Fire Marshal Gary Hale.
On the volunteer side, five new lieutenant positions have been created, including four station lieutenants and one training lieutenant.
According to Orth, who began working with CES as a volunteer in July 1985, he will assist Hale with fire prevention training at area schools, commercial building inspections, commercial building construction plan reviews and fire investigations.
Certified as a fire investigator since 1990, Orth attended the National Fire Academy in Maryland in 1991 and has attended fire conferences every two years since then to remain certified.
In his new position, Orth said he will once again attend the national academy to complete a two-week course toward attaining his fire code inspection and building plans review certificates.
"The state turned over plans review to CES for commercial buildings inside the Soldotna city limits five years ago and as Soldotna's grown, so has the work load," Orth said.
He also predicted an increase in fire-code inspections as local schools become dormitories for athletes participating in the 2006 Arctic Winter Games here.
"A lot of stuff will be coming our way with the winter games," he said.
Orth said that while the new promotion is a career advancement opportunity for him, more importantly it allows him to be home in the evenings with his family, which includes his wife, Laurie, daughters, Jennifer, 17, Lisa, 16, and Madison, 6, and Laurie's children, Shelby Lynn, 9, and Jesse, 4. Orth also has a daughter, Erin, 20.
"I missed a lot of my children's growing up while I was gone on 24-hour shifts," he said.
Under Capt. Keith Hamilton, the CES on-call volunteers now have four new station lieutenants and a new volunteer training lieutenant, who does not report to Hamilton.
"All five are new positions," Hamilton said.
"All were current on-call volunteers who were promoted from the ranks."
Serving Station 1 in Soldotna is Lt. Mike Hancock; at Station 3 in Sterling is Lt. David Bunts; at Station 4 in Kalifornsky Beach is Lt. Craig Macdonald; and serving in Medic Station 5 in Funny River is Lt. Mike Simpson. The new training lieutenant is Albert Burns.
Along with the promotions comes a small incentive pay raise, according to Hamilton, but "the real incentive is to make the department better and to better serve the community."
"Under Chief (Jeff) Tucker, our goal is to become the premier combination department in Alaska," Hamilton said.
The new officer positions in the volunteer ranks are the brainchild of a work group requested by Chief Tucker that consisted of full-time firefighters and on-call volunteers.
Placing lieutenants in the chain of command allows an orderly flow of information and direction to the volunteers from each lieutenant, rather than having all 37 volunteers individually reporting to one captain.
"Now each guy has eight people to worry about, and I have four instead of all 37," Hamilton said.
He explained that the new ranks are administrative rather than operational ranks, and when arriving on the scene of a fire, the on-call volunteers, regardless of rank, will follow instructions given by full-time firefighters on scene.
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