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Fire Chief Bruce Stedman leaves Arlington for south county position


September 27, 2017 | View PDF

Courtesy Photo

Bruce Stedman

Longtime leader of Arlington's fire department, Bruce Stedman, has resigned after being offered the fire chief position in south Snohomish County.

Voters in the city of Lynnwood and Fire District 1 approved the formation of the South Snohomish County Fire and Rescue Regional Fire Authority earlier this summer and officials for that district selected Stedman to lead the new regional fire authority.

Stedman has served as the chief of the Arlington Fire Department since 2010 and helped lead the local police department as the city's public safety director from 2014 to 2016 as well.

"Saying good-bye to Fire Chief Bruce Stedman will be very hard," wrote Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert.

Stedman came into Arlington at a time when a levy for emergency services failed in the city, but was able to get a levy passed in April 2011 with 84.52 percent of the voters approving.

Through budget negotiations and grant funding Stedman also worked to update much of the fire and emergency equipment and vehicles for the department.

The department now has mobile data terminals for crews, which help them communicate with dispatch and command more easily.

Stedman also encouraged those under him to work at improving themselves, according to Arlington Police Chief Jonathan Ventura.

"He was a great mentor," said Ventura. "Bruce encouraged me to go back to school and was a real advocate for self-development."

Ventura said that Stedman valued building "leadership from within."

At the fire department Stedman helped upgrade standards and held live exercises when possible.

A "Healthy In, Healthy Out" program helped to decontaminate gear and always have a set of clean gear available for local firefighters. It also brought awareness to the long-term health risks for firefighters.

A report from the federal Centers for Disease Control said that firefighters have twice as much chance to develop various forms of cancer compared to the general population.

"He was a big believer that you should take care of your people," said Ventura.

Arlington also assigned Stedman to lead the Arlington Police Department for two years to help give the department a new identity and direction.

"Bruce's greatest achievement occurred when he was promoted to public safety director for two years," wrote Tolbert.

Ventura, who was a police officer and deputy chief with the department when Stedman led it, said that local police needed some guidance at the time.

"He came over as a public safety director at a time when your department needed some leadership," he said. "We were kind of a ship without a rudder."

Stedman worked with police officers and the city to work on community-based policing. His "All-In" campaign promoted working together between the community and the police department.

"When he came in he began changing the entire culture of our department," said Ventura.

City officials say they will miss having Stedman be a part of Arlington.

"He's very personable," said Ventura. "I went to dozens and dozens of community meetings with him. He really made it a point to reach out to people."

Ventura also appreciated how forthright Stedman was.

"He was very caring and very honest with the answers you got from him," he said. "He didn't give you any bad info, he would tell it like it was."

He wishes Stedman well at his new position.

"He was a really good guy and the new fire department is going to be lucky to have him," said Ventura.

Deputy Fire Chief Dave Kraski is currently serving as the acting fire chief for the Arlington Fire Department.

Former Deputy Fire Chief Tom Cooper, who retired earlier this year, is assisting Kraski in a non-uniformed role.

The city will be holding off on finding a permanent fire chief, according to Arlington's communications manager Kristin Banfield.

City officials are currently in negotiations with officials from the City of Marysville and Fire District 12 on forming their own regional fire authority and city officials want to see where the talks are in a few months before committing to a new fire chief, she said.


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