OIFR names Williams fire chief

After a year of accusations, an investigation and a financial surprise from the Social Security department, Orcas Island Fire and Rescue officially has a new fire chief to lead them into a new year.

During a special meeting on Dec. 14, the OIFR Board of Fire Commissioners announced that Acting Fire Chief Scott Williams will be the station’s permanent chief.

“I find him committed to Orcas Island Fire and Rescue,” said Commissioner Barbara Bedell. “He’s young, but he is committed to stay.”

Two of the three commissioners, Bedell and Board Chairman Wes Heinmiller, were present at the announcement. The third commissioner, Amanda Montague, was off-island but conferenced into the meeting.

“I have been very impressed with Scott’s work,” said Heinmiller. “He was able to land on his feet running.”

Following the conduct investigation of former Fire Chief Mik Preysz – which led to his resignation in April – Williams stepped into the position of acting chief while the board conducted its search for Preysz’s replacement. In July of this year, San Juan County took over the finances for OIFR and discovered they had not been paying into Social Security for several years.

Heinmiller commended Williams on the work he has done this year as acting chief, including working on next year’s budget, which will be discussed during the next regular board meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 9.

“I look forward to this,” said Williams. “We’ve made good progress. I think we’re going to have a good year.”