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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Valley fire chief says ‘no thanks’ to raise

A $10,000 pay raise is nothing to sneeze at, but Mike Thompson, Spokane Valley fire chief, turned one down this week.

Thompson, hired in March, was offered the money by the Spokane Valley Fire Commission after receiving a glowing job review. The raise would have brought the chief’s salary up to the $130,000 that, at the time he was hired, Thompson told the commission he was worth.

Thursday, the chief said he was more concerned about the department’s well-being.

“My thinking was I’ve been here six months, and we’ve certainly made progress. But there are still things to do, and I didn’t feel I necessarily earned it,” Thompson said.

The raise wasn’t projected in the current budget, and the chief didn’t think the department needed the unexpected expense.

“It’s not very often that you hear about a public official making a step like that, and I think he should be commended for it,” Commissioner Joe Dawson said.

Commissioners are praising Thompson for his leadership. The chief packs a brown bag lunch and makes a point of eating with firefighters while rotating through the district’s 10 stations in Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake, Millwood and Otis Orchards.

Thompson was a 30-year veteran of Los Angeles-area fire agencies when he was offered the Spokane Valley job Feb. 16. He’d been living in Spokane since 2003 to be closer to his father. His salary was based on comparable salaries for comparably sized fire districts. Fire chief is an appointed position.

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