Eastman sworn in as South County Fire chief

L-R: Fire Chief Bob Eastman is sworn in by South County Fire Commissioner Ed Widdis, retired fire chief of Snohomish County Fire District 1.

Bob Eastman was sworn in as fire chief of South County Fire during the regional fire authority’s board of commissioners meeting Tuesday night.

Eastman previously served as assistant chief. He replaces Fire Chief Thad Hovis, who will serve as a transitional consultant until his retirement on July 1.

““The board thanks Chief Hovis for his leadership and many years of service to the community,” Board Chair Jim Kenny said. “Chief Eastman has big shoes to fill, but he is up to the task of trying to match Chief Hovis’ contributions to community safety.”

Eastman will serve as chief executive for the largest fire agency in Snohomish County. The regional fire authority has a staff of more than 350 firefighters and serves more than 300,000 people in Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Mill Creek and southwest Snohomish County.

Outgoing Fire Chief Thad Hovis congratulates new Fire Chief Bob Eastman.

“The board is excited to have Bob Eastman as our next fire chief,” Kenny said. “Chief Eastman has a wealth of experience and knowledge that will help South County Fire meet the challenges of the future. He has been a valued member of our senior leadership team for many years, and now he will lead South County Fire in delivering great service to our community. The fire service is changing with technology developments, and Chief Eastman’s expertise in planning for the future will make our community safer over the next decade.”

Eastman has 40 years of experience in emergency services. He started his emergency medical services career in 1984 in his home state of Minnesota. Eastman completed his paramedic training while serving in the Coast Guard from 1987 to 1991. He also served with the Air National Guard from 1994 to 2017, including a deployment to Iraq in 2007.

Eastman was hired by Snohomish County Fire District 11 as a firefighter/paramedic in 1996 and came up through the ranks as local fire departments consolidated over the years. He was on the staff leadership team involved in drafting the Regional Fire Authority (RFA) Plan approved by voters in Lynnwood and Snohomish County Fire District 1 to establish South County Fire in 2017. Eastman also played a key role in the annexation of Brier, Mill Creek and Mountlake Terrace to the RFA.

During the pandemic, Eastman was assigned to the county’s emergency operations center, where he worked on behalf of fire agencies throughout the county to secure personal protective gear and supplies crucial to maintaining public and firefighter safety. He also helped develop plans to stand up mass vaccination sites.

  1. Congrats to Bob. I expect Bob may not recall our work together, but I appreciated his candor and competence. This is probably a good thing for many.

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