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Californian named Spokane Valley fire chief

Tue., Jan. 29, 2013

Collins takes Spokane Valley helm

Bryan Collins has been hired as chief of the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

The 51-year-old from San Ramon, Calif., will be paid a $155,000 salary. He replaces retiring Chief Mike Thompson.

“It’s truly an honor and humbling to be chosen as the next fire chief,” Collins said in a brief statement before the board of fire commissioners.

The board voted unanimously and without discussion to give Collins the top job.

Collins comes to Spokane Valley after retiring last year as assistant fire chief of the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District.

Commissioner Mike Pearson thanked the local fire chiefs, police chiefs, community members and elected officials who served on two panels that interviewed the top six candidates for the position. The panels provided input on who should be selected and “I think we listened carefully,” Pearson said.

Several commissioners were generous in their praise of Collins after the formal meeting ended.

“We were all pretty much in line,” said commission chairman Kolby Hanson. “I liked his experience. His communication style made me feel really comfortable.”

Commissioner Bill Anderson said Collins came from a department that has earned the same international accreditation Valley Fire holds. “We liked that about him,” Anderson said. “The employees liked him. He reminds me a lot of Mike Thompson.”

Collins said he is pleased to be joining the department, which has an “outstanding” reputation in the Western United States. “Within the fire community it has that reputation,” he said.

Though Collins lives in California, he is no stranger to the Northwest. He and his wife, Nancy, bought a vacation home in Coeur d’Alene four years ago after several trips to visit friends who had moved from California. “We just fell in love with the place,” he said.

Collins was assistant fire chief in San Ramon for three years before he retired. He previously worked for the Moraga-Orinda Fire District in Orinda, Calif., for more than 23 years. He holds a master’s degree in emergency services administration from California State University-Long Beach.

Collins has been married to his wife for 25 years. The couple have a 20-year-old son attending the University of Idaho and a 17-year-old daughter who is a high school junior.

“I’m glad to be here,” Collins said. “I can’t wait to get started.”

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