East Jefferson Fire Rescue to manage Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue

One-year deal provides structure

East Jefferson Fire Rescue Chief Bret Black.

East Jefferson Fire Rescue Chief Bret Black.

PORT LUDLOW — East Jefferson Fire Rescue officials will oversee management responsibilities for Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue starting Sept. 1.

The one-year agreement will have East Jefferson Fire Rescue (EJFR) Fire Chief Bret Black and his management team oversee Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue (PLFR) while the two departments operate separately, Black said on Monday.

The deal was announced in press release Sunday after months of negotiations between the two fire districts. Starting in September, PLFR will pay EJFR $14,500 a month for the additional management responsibilities.

The agreement “creates a contract for services where EJFR provides administrative and management services to PLFR utilizing EJFR’s Fire Chief and management team,” the press release said.

“This agreement establishes an incremental process for EJFR to assume the duties and functions for the management of PLFR, accompanied with phases that define performance objectives and associated compensation.”

The various services defined in the agreement will not all take effect immediately. The agreement is designed as a tiered process to allow both districts to adapt to the plans as written.

EJFR has been providing 9-1-1 incident command services on major incidents to PLFR for several months.

“For instance, I went on an incident in Port Ludlow last night for a vegetation fire,” Black said. “We already have a strong working relationship.”

The departments have formed a committee that will evaluate the agreement that will meet quarterly throughout the year to discuss what works, what may need to change and if the agreement should be extended, Black said.

Residents served by either fire district won’t see any major changes with regard to service.

“I don’t anticipate any major changes that will be noticeable by the community,” Black said. “They’re going to have the same great fire service responding to Port Ludlow and their engines and their people.

“We’re truly just adding a management element over that. East Jefferson is probably not going to see any obvious changes as well.”

Black also highlighted the fact that all the various fire departments throughout Jefferson County assist each other as needed frequently.

“PLFR and EJFR have a long history of reciprocating emergency services to the benefit of their respective communities,” Black said. “This management and leadership change will facilitate additional efficiencies for 9-1-1 operations, as well as training and management of resources for both agencies.

“Any time we enhance our services and capabilities, the community wins.”

Black said he’s excited to step into a role to oversee both departments and to see what positive changes may come out of it.

“I think it’s an exciting opportunity,” he said. “I live in Port Ludlow, so, to me, I’ve already gotten to know the community and firefighters as well more than just on the job.

“From my own experience, I think it’s an interesting opportunity to see if we can economize some of the ways we respond and certainly how we manage the fire departments of both agencies. I think it’s going to be interesting to see the outcome, and I’m excited about it.”

Former Port Ludlow Fire Chief Brad Martin was placed on administrative leave in May and agreed on a severance package at the end of his contract at the end of August, with volunteer firefighter Gary Kavanagh serving as chief in the interim, according to documents obtained through a public records request.

In September, members of the Local 3811 union of Jefferson County Firefighters, which represents Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue firefighters, passed a vote of no confidence in Martin, the first time a vote of no confidence had been made for PLFR.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]

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