The top pick of fire chief applicants by Newport volunteer firefighters was welcomed as the new fire chief at the city council meeting Monday night. He’s Phil Paige, a longtime fire service veteran who has spent many years in California, most recently with the fire department in Redding, California. He appeared before the Newport City Council with his wife and was given the fire chief’s badge by City Manager Jim Voetberg who welcomed him to his new job.
Paige said he was happy to be in Newport and that he enjoyed the coast sunshine, which drew laughter from the crowd. He was later told it’s beautiful on the coast, even when it rains. He said his first day on the job was fun and that he looks forward to getting to know the troops and the area. Volunteer firefighters said they preferred Paige over the other three candidates mainly because of Paige’s obvious professionalism, friendly, transparent demeanor, and that he’s a “people person.”
The department has suffered what’s been described as unpleasant tension between paid staff and the volunteer force. The department has now had four chief’s in the past six months, largely due to turn-over from retirements and Assistant Chief Rob Murphy having to fill in until Chief Paige’s arrival.