Renton Fire Chief retires after 36 years of service

Rick Marshall was fire chief for four years and led the transition to a regional fire authority

Last week marked the retirement of Renton Regional Fire Authority (RFA) Fire Chief Rick Marshall, who had a 36-year career in the community, led the organization for four years and handled most of the transition as the department became a fire authority in 2016.

“We’ll best remember Rick’s strong leadership, character, compassion, and commitment to our city. His ability to create positive and long-lasting partnerships has developed a fire department that sets our region’s standard,” Mayor Armondo Pavone stated in his weekly newsletter.

Pavone was on the RFA Governance board when he was a councilmember, witnessing the fire authority’s progress under Marshall’s leadership.

The Renton Fire Authority was founded thanks to voter approval for a special fire district in the region, of which Marshall helped develop.

Reports from previous years showed the RFA’s constant service improvements also helped create savings in Rentonites’ insurance premiums in 2019. In that same year, the Renton RFA officially moved all its offices out of city hall.

Just as the RFA was adjusting to being fully independent, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Pavone, in his newsletter, praised Marshall for the RFA being a regional leader in handling the pandemic’s effects while still delivering consistent services. In an effort to adjust to financial hardships from COVID-19, the RFA had to cut about $800,000 in non-personnel spending, froze capital and reserve funding transfers, and began to seek out grants for COVID expenses this past year.

Before his departure, at the Sept. 28 Renton Committee of the Whole meeting, Marshall addressed the council with a 2020 budget review.

“The RFA is really in good hands,” Marshall said at the meeting.

The decision on the next fire chief will fall to the six-member governing board, which includes: Renton City Council President Ruth Pérez, councilmembers Randy Corman and Ryan McIrvin, and Fire District 25 commissioners Kerry Abercrombie, Myron Meikle and Marcus Morrell.