Nikiski Fire Chief Fred Swen takes oath of office from Borough Clerk Sherry Biggs.
The Nikiski Fire Department has come a long way since its first 1944 pumper truck and converted military vehicle that was turned into a water tanker and put into service in the early 1960’s by thirty some volunteers to protect life and property for the growing community of Nikiski. Today Nikiski’s new Fire Chief Fred Swen oversees 19 employees and 25 on-call volunteers. The department’s service area is responsible for an area roughly the size of the state of Connecticut with approx. 5000 residents and utilizes state of the equipment. Its primary purpose and responsibility covers not only residents, but the North Kenai Industry parkway, Cook Inlet oil & gas platforms, cold water capability, satellite station’s at native villages Beluga and Tyonek as well as community support and involvement in training and education.
A retired U.S. Marine, Chief Swen retired from the Federal Fire Service this September with over 30 years experience when he heard of the opportunity in Nikiski, “I just wasn’t ready to quit working and I wanted to contribute my knowledge and skills to the community. My wife and I really like Alaska and I’m very excited to be able to put my skills to work for this community,” said Chief Swen. According to Swen he is especially interested in the prevention part of his job, “We have a great program going to reach the children, but I’m equally interested in reaching the adults as well and am in pursuit of that aspect at the moment. There are a great group of firefighters here and I’ve pledged myself to help us all get even better at our abilities and skills,” added Swen.
With the colder weather upon us Chief Swen issued a warning for people using wood heaters to be sure to clean their chimney’s, “We really want to prevent any chimney fires as well as be sure folks have their carbon monoxide monitors which are now required by law in homes. Many people are still not aware that that law exists, so we want to help people become of aware and have those CO monitors installed so we prevent any loss of life from carbon monoxide poisoning and we can all enjoy this great community for a long time to come,” said Swen. Chief Swen officially took the oath of office from Borough Clerk Sherry Biggs at the October 18th meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.
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