By Laurelle Walsh

Okanogan County Fire District 6 has begun the hiring process for a third division chief, which will add one salaried position — the fifth — to the district.

District Chief Don Waller said the added position has been planned for two years, and has been approved by the Board of Fire Commissioners.

“This is important for us as there are times when coverage is lower than it should be if someone is off sick, at a mandatory training, meeting, or on vacation,” said Waller. “A division chief will prevent us from being shorthanded and provide adequate staffing levels.”

The division chiefs are each in charge of particular functions of the district, Waller said, which, with the new hire, will be divided into three broad categories: inventory and equipment; prevention and education; and training.

Until last year, the fire district had had three division chiefs. But then in early 2013, Cody Acord was promoted from division chief to assistant chief, assuming a new position for the district — second in command under Waller.

“There was a need to have an assistant chief,” another person who could work closely with Waller, sharing the knowledge of the district chief’s duties, he said.

Hiring a third division chief will provide some relief for Acord, who is heading up two large-scale projects, Waller said. One is developing new policies and procedures to keep the district in compliance with state laws; the second is an effort to recertify the towns of Winthrop and Twisp with the Washington State Ratings Bureau, he said.

The salary for the third division chief is funded through the district’s operations budget, Waller said.