New Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical chief coming from west coast

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Article updated at 2:05 p.m. Wednesday:

The city has announced that Richard Llewellyn, an outside hire, will be the new chief of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical.

Llewellyn is currently assistant chief of administration for the Everett Fire Department in western Washington, according to the city’s news release. He’s set to begin in the role on Aug. 15.

“Expectations of the fire service are evolving, which creates many challenges and opportunities as we seek ways to both improve our performance during emergency responses and to reduce the frequency or severity of those emergencies,” Llewellyn said in the release. “I’m excited to join a team and community that is future-focused and open to developing, adapting, and deploying innovative approaches to safety, health, and emergency response.”

Tom Fagan has served as interim chief of LDCFM since former chief Shaun Coffey’s retirement at the end of 2021.

Llewellyn was born in Montana and raised in Naches, Washington, according to the release. He attended Highline Community College in Des Moines, Iowa, on a basketball scholarship, but an injury ended his basketball career. He then finished a degree in business administration from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington.

Since 1996, he has worked for fire departments in Pullman, Spokane Valley and Everett. He completed a master’s program through Harvard University’s Extension School in 2020. A research paper he wrote about opiate usage in the Spokane Valley was recognized with the National Fire Academy’s Outstanding Research Award for 2018, according to the release.

Seamus Albritton, president of the IAFF Local 1596, said via email Wednesday that the union is looking forward to working with Llewellyn.

“He has a proven history of success in the fire service that assures us the future of public safety in our community is bright,” he said. “We would also like to pass on a thank you our community and City management for including our membership and other stake holders in such a significant way during the hiring process.”

Llewellyn has two adult sons who live on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

“He and his wife Holly were married in 2018 and live in Lake Stevens, Washington with their six dogs (it’s a blended family – each had three dogs when they met). They enjoy travel and exploring new areas and are very excited to be relocating to Lawrence,” according to the release.

The search committee that selected Llewellyn included Sarah Plinsky, Douglas County administrator; Bonnie Lowe, president and CEO of the Chamber of Lawrence; Lyle Schwartz, LDCFM division chief; Albritton; Brian Bradfield, vice president of ancillary and support services at LMH Health; and Nelson Mosley, chief of KUPD.

“We felt fortunate to have such a strong pool of applicants,” City Manager Craig Owens said in the release. “Through an extensive process, we found that Rich’s career progression and his leadership approach in the field of fire and emergency medical response is just the right fit for where we are today and what we see ahead in our community. It will take continued evolution for a department like LDCFM to keep performing at high levels. Rich seems to understand that and to have insights on how to move forward together as a team and as a part of a complex community system.”

The city’s news release did not name other finalists for the position.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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