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Gaston eyes Forest Grove fire chief

Michael Kinkade might add third job to Cornelius duties


Forest Grove Fire Chief Michael Kinkade, who doubles as the part-time fire chief for Cornelius, might soon add a third fire-chief gig to his duties.

This one would be in Gaston, where Fire Chief Roger Mesenbrink has announced he will retire from the part-time position May 1. The Gaston Rural Fire District Board of Directors spoke with Kinkade at its January meeting and he indicated he’d be willing to take on the job, said Board President Phil Anderson.

Kinkade seemed an obvious choice, given that he’s successfully providing a similar service to Cornelius and has worked out any kinks in such an arrangement, Anderson said.

The process now shifts to the city of Forest Grove, Kinkade’s primary employer, which would need to sign off on any such arrangement. A city council work session will address the topic next Monday, Feb. 9, Kinkade said.

Gaston’s proposal is separate from any decisions that might be made based on a study of the six western Washington County fire agencies. Due this month, the study is focusing on the cost and efficiency of various partnership models between the city departments of Cornelius and Forest Grove and the rural fire districts of Cornelius, Forest Grove, Gaston and Banks.

If the cost is right, a Gaston RFD contract with Kinkade would fit right in with the study, said Mesenbrink, who favors the idea of consolidating those six western agencies into one big westside fire district.

“The idea is good because it’s a first step in getting all the westside departments together as one,” he said. “But you can’t just wave a wand and say ‘OK, today we’re all one.’ It’s a very lengthy process.”

Given that, even if the study were to suggest a different partnership model, Anderson said, it would be easy to adapt because Kinkade’s contract would include an option to terminate it on 30-day notice, as his Cornelius contract does.

“It gives us a chance to try it out,” Anderson said, and if one side or the other doesn’t like how the arrangement is working, they can cut it short.

“I’ve heard no opposition to what we’re doing,” Anderson said.

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