Orcas Island Fire Chief Mik Preysz has resigned after a review of his conduct with department members.
“It’s going to take some adjustment, but morale in the department is good,” said Fire Commissioner Wes Heinmiller. “We are business as usual.”
Preysz was placed on administrative leave in mid-March. Scott Williams and Bryce Hamilton have been serving as acting deputy chiefs. Preysz’s resignation was effective April 8.
According to the department, there was cause for concern regarding behavior with employees and volunteers. An independent investigator from Bellingham was hired to conduct a review. The Islands’ Sounder has submitted a public records request for the investigative findings.
Preysz had a long career as a paramedic, trauma program coordinator and flight medic in Utah. In 2009, he started as a division chief with Orcas Island Fire and Rescue and was promoted to assistant chief in early 2013. In April 2015, he was appointed to the position of interim fire chief, replacing the previous chief Kevin O’Brien. The Board of Fire Commissioners officially appointed Preysz as fire chief on Nov. 19, 2015.
The commission is now focusing its efforts on finding a new chief.
“We’ve decided to go into an executive search, and while we always try to promote from within, we want to be as fair as possible,” Heinmiller said.
Orcas Fire and Rescue issued the following statement on April 12.
“We, and the community, are thankful for his many years of community service,” said the Board of Fire Commissioners.
For 24 years Miklos Preysz has served with the family of Orcas Island Fire and Rescue. Preysz is described as an excellent paramedic whose efforts can be credited with saving countless lives, and for bringing comfort and quality care to many, many more. His devotion to our team was extraordinary as he spent much of his time serving the community and the members of Orcas Island Fire and Rescue. In addition to his dedication to paramedicine, he is perhaps better known for his dedication and commitment to family. Those who have known Preysz are quick to speak of his love and devotion to his wife, children and grandchildren. He was always quick to tell department members “family before fire” and to exchange stories of loved ones. The Department joins together in gratitude for the many contributions Preysz made to the fire department and community.