North Whatcom Fire and Rescue (NWFR) has a new fire chief. William Pernett, who served as interim fire chief for three months after former chief Ron Anderson resigned, was officially sworn in during the NWFR fire commissioner’s meeting on September 17.
Pernett and his family transferred to Whatcom County from Tucson, Arizona in 2014, when Pernett was hired as division chief of operations. He brings to the job 25 years of firefighting experience as well as degrees in fire science, paramedic studies and public safety administration.
Commissioners deemed Pernett the best candidate out of 10 applicants for the position. Chief of special services Henry Hollander said he is happy with the decision.
“I think he’s an excellent choice,” Hollander said. “He started out as a volunteer and went right up through the ranks. He’s been a battalion chief, and he’s been with us for more than a year, which is valuable in a district as complex as ours.”
North Whatcom Fire and Rescue covers the largest area in the county, with a jurisdiction of 182 square miles. As chief, Pernett is in charge of 49 full-time firefighters, 52 volunteers and 10 administrative staff members.
“I’m honored to be in the position,” Pernett said. “It’s a great organization, and we’re here to serve to the public as best we can. I really feel it’s an honor to be in a leadership role.”
One of Pernett’s first actions as fire chief was to organize a strategic planning session to work out the long-term goals of NWFR. Some of the goals coming out of that session include developing relationships with outside agencies, keeping costs low and working on recruitment and retention of volunteers and professionals.
“We’re really looking to be as efficient as possible in providing good service to the public and our community,” Pernett said.