Bayside Fire Department will have a new chief next month. Chris Smith will take over from Chief Howard Rue II, who has been chief for the past five years.
Rue announced his retirement last December and will officially retire Dec. 3. Smith will start Oct. 19. The two will overlap for a little over a month so the station does not lose any of the ground it’s made up under Rue, said Paul Van Dyke, chair of Fire Protection Area No. 1.
The hiring process took about nine months and nine firefighters applied for the role. Four were interviewed on Zoom. Two came to Kodiak for in-person interviews. Eventually, Smith’s name topped the list.
He is currently the fire chief of Canton Township in Ohio, a role he’s held since 2014. Smith has been a firefighter since 2001, and has worked his way up the ranks in the Canton department. He was promoted to captain in 2007, shift commander in 2012 and chief in 2014.
According to his application, he currently oversees 15 full-time personnel, an assistant chief, a fire prevention officer, an administrative assistant and 27 part-time personnel.
The Canton department operates three 24/7 stations and covers 14,000 citizens. It has a budget of $3 million.
“I’m very much looking forward to our new fire chief continuing the work Chief Rue has done over the last five years,” Van Dyke said at last week’s meeting of the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly.
“As much as we will miss Chief Rue, this is an opportunity to show that we have been trained well by Chief Rue and we will continue his legacy.”
Given his experience, Smith will start with a Step E salary of $85,899, which requires borough assembly approval. A resolution approving his hiring passed the assembly unanimously last week.