SVFR, WLAD ready for new chief

Interim Chief Steve Abel prepares to hand the reigns to Michael Schick

April 27, 2019 — Interim Chief Director Steve Abel attended his last Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue (SVFR) and Western Lane Ambulance District (WLAD) board meeting Thursday night, as the newly hired Chief Michael Schick will be officially starting his position on May 6.

“I want to express my appreciation for having the opportunity to work with both districts,” Abel said. “It was a privilege to work with the staff and volunteers to pick up these two organizations. The community is in really good hands with the management and staff that we have. I want to express my thanks to both the division chiefs, Jim Dickerson and Matt House. They’re the ones that kept the wheels rolling, making sure the fire engines and the medic units are rolling out and the training is occurring, and so forth. And Dina McClure for keeping business operations up and running. And both boards for supporting the mission, the staff and what we do. I’m confident that Chief Schick will be in very good hands. And you’ve got a very well qualified fire and EMS chief coming on board.”

WLAD Board Director Rick Yecny spoke about his appreciation for Abel’s work.

“We’re so lucky to have been able to find you and get your services in a time when we really needed some leadership,” he said. “Under your leadership, we haven’t been status quo. We’ve been able to move ahead, and I think that’s a tremendous testimony to your leadership. So, we want to say thank you for everything you’ve done, and the time we’ve gotten to know you.”

SVFR Board Director John Carnahan echoed Yecny’s comments, saying, “You came in to kind of a mess, and you’ve helped with that. Now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

In other news from Thursday’s meeting, Alan Burns was sworn in as an interim board member of SVFR after the unexpected resignation of Woody Woodbury in March. Burns, a former city councilor and mayor of Florence, as well as a long-time business owner in the community, is running unopposed for position 3 of the board in the May 21 Special Election.

Finally, Abel gave an update on a proposed third entity being considered by SVFR and WLAD. A first draft of the proposal was sent to the district’s attorney for review.

“It came back with a whole bunch of red ink, which was not surprising,” Abel said. “I did meet with (SVFR Board Director) Ron Greene and Rick Yecny to discuss where we were with that, and I responded back with 20 different notes clarifying. I spoke with the attorney today, and she said that she should have the next part by Monday.”

The boards of directors for SVFR and WLAD now meet jointly once a month, with additional budget meetings planned. For more info, visit and


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