Former fire chief comes out of retirement to become Redmond’s public works director

Tim Fuller admits some of his friends question his sanity after entering retirement twice only to take on new jobs.

Tim Fuller admits some of his friends question his sanity after entering retirement twice only to take on new jobs.

“I just haven’t gotten this retirement thing nailed down yet – I don’t know how it works,” the City of Redmond’s new public works director quipped during a recent interview with the Redmond Reporter. “I have some friends that wonder about my sanity.”

Fuller, who retired as Redmond’s fire chief in February of last year, was recently sworn in as the city’s new public works director — a position he agreed to do on an interim basis while city officials worked to replace former longtime public works director Bill Campbell, who retired in May.

But when Redmond Mayor John Marchione heard Fuller and his wife, Martha, moved back to the Eastside after a brief stint in Florida, he asked Fuller if he could eliminate Fuller’s interim tag and make him the city’s new public works director.

Fuller discussed it with his wife, agreed to eliminate the temporary tag from his title and help the city with its ongoing vision of “making Redmond a very nice place to live and work,” according to Fuller.

Fuller first retired from the St. Paul Fire Department in Minnesota in 2003 before moving to the Northwest and taking the fire chief in Redmond in 2005. He retired a second time early last year from Redmond, but is back working for Redmond again — this time as part of the city directors’ team.

Marchione said Fuller is “a great fit on (his) directors’ team.”

“He has a wealth of experience at St. Paul and the City of Redmond in dealing with large organizations and he understands the city’s focus on customer service,” Marchione said. “He has shown he is very adept at organizational change and creating a positive culture.”

Fuller’s career spans 40 years as a firefighter, including fire chief positions at St. Paul and Redmond.

When he retired as Redmond fire chief, he was lauded by fire department employees for his innovative thinking, approachable demeanor and creating a collaborative work environment.

For example, Fuller set the parameters for the new Fire Station 17, which opened up earlier this year, during the planning process, but left the details to the on-line firefighters who are driving the trucks and making service calls. With more people involved, the project was more efficient and fewer details were overlooked, Fuller said when he retired last year.

Before retiring as fire chief for Redmond, he also served a brief stint at police chief. He moved over and served as the city’s interim police chief for three months in 2009 before the city hired Ron Gibson as its top cop to replace former longtime police chief Steve Harris. He employed a similar, effective leadership style that helped the city transition to its new chief.

Now Fuller is heading up the city public works department. He said his main task right now is the 2013-14 budget, which is currently being worked on by city officials and staff. The next biennium budget proposal will be presented to City Council in October and adopted in early December.

As the former fire and police chief, Fuller is familiar with the city’s Budgeting by Priorities (BP) strategy, which uses public input to prioritize city services and spending.

Fuller has been in a leadership position with Redmond since 2005 — except for his brief retirement stint — which will go a long way as the city’s new public works director.

“I’m coming in and bringing a little different perspective,” Fuller said. “Call it a cultural shift. I want to bring in new ideas and new ways of managing and leading. I have a big stake in Redmond. I have some connection here. I enjoy working for the City of Redmond. Maybe I just wasn’t ready to retire.”