Estes steps down as Medical Lake Fire Chief
The Medical Lake Fire Department is in a state of transition right now, with the departure of Fire Chief Jeff Estes.
Assistant Chief Jason Mayfield is serving as interim chief until a final decision is made on the top job.
City Administrator Doug Ross said Estes’ departure wasn’t entirely a surprise, although the timeline had moved up from previous guesses.
“We talked last fall about it,” Ross said.
Estes worked full-time with the Spokane Fire Department in addition to his duties as chief of Medical Lake’s 20-plus volunteer crew. He’ll remain on the staff as a volunteer firefighter following the transition.
“He’s not completely leaving the department,” Ross said.
As with any new leader, some changes could be in the making. Mayor John Higgins doesn’t anticipate many will happen with the new chief. Until the position is permanently filled, however, it will be business as usual.
“If Jason in the interim does good, he may remain chief,” Higgins said.
Estes stepped into the position after former chief Brian Musser left a few years ago.
Both Ross and Higgins spoke highly of Estes’ time as chief, noting that the overall volunteer numbers increased and the department missed very few calls. The crew also received some better compensation for their time.
“Under him, we got a better pay system with our volunteers,” Ross said.
Equipment upgrades, including a new fire apparatus, also mark a period of growth and stability for the department. In addition, Medical Lake took part in some training sessions with Fire District 10 and Airway Heights, joining in on a joint training effort throughout the West Plains. The training programs have helped the departments increase partnership on calls.
The announcement of Estes’ resignation was made at the Tuesday, Feb. 5 City Council meeting. There the Fire Department noted he hoped to spend a bit more time with family with the additional available hours.
The department, which is currently home to 24 volunteers, sees its numbers fluctuate just like any other volunteer department. Higgins said promoting from within was a goal for the city, and also helps to create some stability within the department.
Having Estes’ presence nearby will also likely help in the transition, providing a bit of stability for the crew.
“We appreciate that he’s remaining on as a volunteer,” Ross said.
James Eik can be reached at email@example.com.