May 19, 2024 2:46 pm

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South County Fire Chief Thad Hovis to retire

EVERETT—South County Fire Chief Thad Hovis has announced he will be retiring on July 1.

“It has been a gift to be part of the fire service and this organization. I am extremely proud of the men and women of South County Fire who do amazing work and serve the people of southwest Snohomish County with passion and compassion. They are truly the heart and soul of South County Fire,” Hovis said.

Hovis has led the county’s largest fire agency since 2020. The regional fire authority serves more than 300,000 residents in Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace and unincorporated southwest Snohomish County.

Earlier this year Thad Hovis informed the Board of Fire Commissioners of his plans to retire in 2024. He will be stepping down from his duties as fire chief on April 1 and will serve as a transitional consultant until his retirement on July 1.

The board has selected Assistant Chief Bob Eastman to serve as the next fire chief. He will be sworn-in at the commissioners meeting on April 2.

Hovis has spent his entire fire service career serving the people of south Snohomish County. He grew up in Edmonds. He started out as a volunteer with the Edmonds Fire Department in 1995 and was hired by the Mountlake Terrace Fire Department in 1996. Hovis moved up through the ranks over the next two decades as five local fire agencies combined to become South County Fire.

Thad Hovis took the helm as fire chief in 2020 during the early days of the COVID pandemic. He encouraged and supported countywide fire service collaboration to provide unified response planning and secure crucial resources so firefighters could safely serve the public throughout the outbreak.

During Hovis’ tenure, voters overwhelmingly approved a benefit charge to provide a more sustainable way of funding emergency services. Hovis also played a key role in the successful annexations of three cities into the regional fire authority: Mill Creek in 2022 and Brier and Mountlake Terrace in 2023.

“Chief Hovis has given so much heart and leadership to this community,” Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell said. “From his early days as a firefighter in Mountlake Terrace, to his leadership through the transition to a regional fire authority, and now through the early years as South County Fire, Chief Hovis has helped us navigate through many changes and challenges. He has helped SCF become not only a regional model, but a national model for excellence in fire and medical service. I am thankful to Chief Hovis for leading such an amazing group of fire and emergency response individuals with immense passion and commitment to our communities in south Snohomish County. I wish Thad a wonderful retirement!” 

North County Regional Fire Authority Deputy Chief Dave Kraski described Hovis as “a trailblazer for fostering agency cooperation and regionalization, recognizing the power of collaboration in enhancing the effectiveness of our ability to provide emergency response.”

“His visionary leadership has laid the foundation for a stronger more resilient fire service that will continue to thrive long after his departure,” said Kraski, president of the Snohomish County Fire Chiefs Association.

South County Fire Commissioner and retired fire chief Ed Widdis said, “Chief Hovis has done an outstanding job leading our regional fire authority through a time of unprecedented challenges and growth. Most importantly, he leaves a legacy and a culture of supportiveness and excellence that has been embraced at all levels within the organization. We are grateful for his service and wish him well in his retirement.”

SOURCE: South County Fire

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