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Fire chief Tommy Smith takes over his new job in Redmond
Members of the City of Redmond’s fire and police departments, City Council and various commissions, as well as staff from a number of city departments, gathered in the Council Chambers at City Hall Wednesday morning to welcome Tommy Smith as the city’s new fire chief.
Smith comes to Redmond from the Colorado Springs Fire Department in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he had been serving as interim fire chief before moving to the Pacific Northwest. Other positions he held at that department — which he served for 22 years — included firefighter, paramedic, lieutenant, captain, battalion chief and deputy chief.
City of Redmond Mayor John Marchione said in addition to his skills and experience, another thing that made Smith stand out in the hiring process was how he exemplified the city’s values of integrity, accountability and a commitment to service.
“He came across as very thoughtful, professional and committed to service,” Marchione said about his first impression of Smith, adding that he is also very approachable.
Marchione said as part of the hiring process, the city conducts a background check on all potential department directors and because finding the right person for the fire chief position was so important, Marchione did the check himself and traveled to Colorado Springs in August.
Smith did some checking on Redmond, as well. He visited the city in the spring when he first heard about the open position to see if Redmond was somewhere he and his family would want to live.
“It needs to be a fit both ways,” Marchione said.
Smith said that first visit to Redmond was like coming home.
“You are about the same things (as Colorado Springs),” he told the crowd.
Smith said he loved the area and that people were very friendly and welcoming. He added that he took the job to serve and be a part of the community — not make a name for himself or build his resume.
Smith arrived in Redmond on Aug. 26, but his first day at the Redmond Fire Department (RFD) was Tuesday.
With Smith taking over the fire department, Redmond Police Chief Ron Gibson can go back to just being in charge of the Redmond Police Department (RPD). He had been serving as the interim fire chief while the city conducted its search for a permanent chief.
Gibson also came from Colorado Springs before joining Redmond and had crossed paths with Smith professionally when he was there. He said while it is nice to bring on someone who he has shared common experiences with, he is happier to bring on someone who shares the same values as the city. Gibson said from his past experiences with Smith that he is a man of integrity.
Gibson added that his experiences heading the fire department has given him a better understanding of its needs and will help him in the future as he and Smith work together to develop a public safety strategic plan for the city.
RFD Battalion Chief Doug Kammerzell, who has been with the city for 32 years, said it is always exciting to have someone new at the helm.
“It’s always good to have a permanent person in place that’s going to provide leadership and stability to the department,” he said
Kammerzell said the fire department got this while Gibson was in charge, but it’s not the same because he was not permanent and was splitting his time between the two departments.
Kammerzell met Smith once before while he was visiting Redmond. His impression was that Smith was a “solid guy” and a firefighter’s chief, meaning he is not removed from the firefighters’ jobs and is connected to what they do and their operations.