North Lincoln Fire & Rescue Chief Doug Kerr will retire on Feb. 28.
A meeting of the NLFR District Board is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the Taft Fire Station to discuss the search to replace Kerr.
Kerr made his announcement official through the NLFR newsletter posted at the district's web site in late November. In that statement, Kerr said, "This decision was one of the most difficult of my life but I feel it is the right one for my family and me."
The News Guard posted Kerr’s newsletter message with our original online story on Nov. 27 at thenewsguard.com.
The following is a one-on-one with Chief Kerr about his decision to retire.
News Guard: Why did you decide to retire now and what will you do after you leave NLFR?
Kerr: What first started me thinking about it was when great friends (actually Lincoln City Police Chief Kilian and his wife Renee) of mine were able to retire. I started looking into my personal finances. I worked with a great firm out of eastern Oregon, they worked with us and basically showed me I could retire and be comfortable when we wanted to. Our decision was not based on anything involving my career as chief. I am almost 63 years old and want to enjoy the time I have with my wife and my family. Relax and enjoy.
News Guard: What will be the process to find a new Chief and when will that process begin?
Kerr: The process has already begun, The District will be meeting with an outside agency very soon to discuss options. Those options could include an internal or external process of hiring a replacement. The District could bring someone in from the outside to serve as chief until the permanent process is identified.
News Guard: What accomplishments do you believe you have achieved since you became Chief?
Kerr: I like to think any accomplishments the District has made has been a team effort with our entire staff including our volunteers. Some of those would include, passing a levy and hiring our first career (12) firefighters. Passing a bond to replace needed fire apparatus and equipment and to make facility upgrades, including being able to locate all the administrative functions at the Bob Everest Station and making those changes to the configuration of the station to better accommodate those needs. We hired a full time fire marshal to better meet the needs of a fire prevention program. I have no doubt that these projects and others will continue long after I am gone.
News Guard: How did making the transition to paid staff and attempting to increase the NLFR volunteer base go, and what challenges is the District facing with that transition?
Kerr: We have had paid crew on shift since early August 2017. I feel the transition to paid crews has gone very well, from the start our volunteers have been very receptive to those crews as it takes a little of the burden of what they were providing before crews were added. With our current call volume of almost eight alarms per day it was too much to ask of volunteers. Volunteers are still very much a part of our operational plans and always will be, having paid crews takes a little off of the demand for volunteer response. The District will continue to reach out to the citizens of the District with recruitment programs for volunteers.
News Guard: What do you see as the challenges the new Chief will face and what would be your recommendations to overcome those challenges?
Kerr: After being in the position for a relatively short time, about a year and a half after about one year as an interim chief, I feel the toughest challenge will be to prioritize projects, duties and responsibilities. So much is going on, you end up being pulled in many different directions and away from those priorities. At times, you get so involved with everyday responsibilities, you lose the ability to set actual goals for the District for the future, you lose the chance to think out of the box and think about where you would like to see the District. My best advice to the new chief would be to set up your staff with the very best people you possible can and create a team. As a team you can do anything.
Kerr's 35-year fire service career began in 1984 as a volunteer firefighter with Devils Lake Fire and Rescue. At NLFR, Kerr served as the district fire marshal and assistant fire chief before becoming chief.
Follow this developing story, online, at thenewsguard.com, and in the Wednesday print editions of The News Guard.