After 30 years with the Key Peninsula Fire Department, Tom Lique resigned as chief last week. He stepped down Jan. 28 and was paid through Saturday.
Assistant Chief Guy Allen has been named as the interim chief.
Lique, 48, told The News Tribune on Wednesday that his departure was not planned. He had hoped to retire with the department. But, as he suggested to the newspaper, there were differences between his ideas and those of the five-member board of commissioners.
Lique led Fire District 16 through tough times. He started a volunteer firefighter in 1984 when he was still a student at Peninsula High School. He worked his way up the ranks before he was appointed chief in 2006.
“He did do well for the department,” Board Chair Ray Lamoureaux said.
The board will meet in mid-February to begin the process to find a full-time replacement. Lamoureaux said the process could take about nine months.
Allen has been in the fire service for 33 years. He worked in Blaine before he moved to the Key Peninsula in May 1999. He was appointed assistant chief in 2012.
Allen said he doesn’t intend to change much, “but, by default, change is going to come.”
Lamoureaux said the board is looking for a candidate who can run the business side of the department as well as respond to incidents.
Allen added an ideal candidate would be a “response-ready” chief. He also said he and the board are looking to bring back a sense of happiness that the organization has been missing.
The turnover is a chance to bring a new vision to a department that’s had a lack of direction on the administrative side, Lamoureaux said.
It’s a department that is coming out of a series crises. Budget struggles and a levy campaign brought firefighters back to the district, but not as many positions as hoped.
In 2007, a feud between commissioners Allan Yanity and Jim Bosch came to a head when Yanity assaulted Bosch with a coffee mug during a meeting.
In 2010, a 20-year veteran was disciplined following an incident at a Wenatchee hotel during which an underage firefighter got drunk and property was damaged.
“Tom is great. Great with crisis,” Lamoureaux said. “Problem is, the department is not in crisis anymore. There was nothing left to manage.”