Newport Fire Chief Phil Paige has notified City Manager Spencer Nebel that he’ll be retiring effective this summer. It will give Nebel the luxury of a lot of extra time to recruit a replacement.
Chief Paige came aboard about three years ago after retiring initially from the Redding, California Fire Department where he was an active fire fighter and served in department administration.
Paige immediately evaluated the Newport Fire Department’s resources and began replacing some older fire trucks and apparatus. Paige also shepherded the acquisition of a building on Northeast 73rd to serve as the new fire station for the north end of town. In addition to initiating faster response times for north Newport, the station also allows quicker responses for mutual aid calls up to and including the Cape Foulweather area of Depoe Bay. Even farther north if need be.
Paige also launched a year long investigation into streamlining operational relationships between the county’s scattered fire departments – 9 fire departments serving 45,000 residents. Paige enlisted a nationally renown fire services management firm based out of Wilsonville to do an analysis on what it would take to save money for each department. The report showed that by combining group purchases of fire fighting supplies, equipment, training, along with a more comprehensive program to recruit volunteers county-wide, all departments would likely improve efficiencies and save money in the long run.
Despite many meetings and long hours of discussions spanning many months between most Lincoln County fire departments, the effort was suddenly stopped in its tracks by the Newport City Council which said that Newport fire fighters were not solidly behind the effort. Firefighters complained that Newport’s well equipped fire department would see its resources diluted over a large area to the detriment of Newport residents. Paige disagreed but the council held firm. But they invited him to continue working on the idea.
Paige says he and his wife have been seeing more grandchildren being born and coming up through the family ranks and would like to spend more time with them. Paige and his wife have a second home in Sun River and would like to spend more time there, as well as aboard their boat which is moored at Anacortes – a small town in the northern reaches of Puget Sound.
Paige’s last official day is June 30th.