Board appoints fire commissioner

There’s a new fire commissioner on South Whidbey.

During a special meeting on Feb. 24, the South Whidbey Fire/EMS board of commissioners chose Clinton resident Lawrence Metz as its newest member.

Metz hails from Los Angeles, where he was a firefighter assigned to the harbor for 36 years. He worked with the fire chief there as part of a two-person command team responding to large fires, forming liaisons with the harbor’s police force, nearby refineries and the Coast Guard.

Now retired, he serves as one of 15 board directors for a national firefighter credit union, which he has done for 34 years. For six years, he was chairman of its board.

“The most important thing for our board folks is that they’re good members, and he really knows how to be a member because he’s had a lot of experience with it,” Fire Chief Rusty Palmer said.

Metz and his wife moved to Whidbey in 2012, four years after retiring. He jokingly blames the Nichols Brothers for calling his attention to the island, because the company built a large fireboat for the Los Angeles fire department in 2003.

He is filling the vacancy left by former commissioner Adrienne Blythe Hawley. He will serve a two-year term and then have the option to run for election in 2021. Metz said he has already indicated to the department that he would like to run.

“Having been here a fairly short period of time I’ve been pretty impressed, coming from a big to a small department, by how well-run the department seems to be,” Metz said.

His goals for the position include improving staffing and increasing training.