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Sutherlin fire chief takes Dist. 3 post

Barry Hutchings, 45, replaces Fire Chief Randy Iverson, who retired after 25 years with the department

A new chief will take command of Jackson County Fire District No. — next month.

Barry Hutchings, 45, who heads the Sutherlin Fire Department, will step in May — to lead the district that covers 167 square miles of northern Jackson County. His starting salary will be &

36;96,500.

He replaces Randy Iverson, 55, who retired at the end of the year after 25 years.

We were looking for continuity in character and ability to direct the district, fire district board President John Curtis said. His personality and style are a good fit.

He commended Hutchings' experience, educational background, intelligence and ability to worth with others and earn their trust and respect.

— Hutchings said he grew up hanging around the fire stations of Sutherlin, where his father was a firefighter, and he dreamed of following in his dad's footsteps.

He started as a volunteer firefighter at Douglas County Fire District No. 2 in Roseburg in 1987 and was hired as a firefighter there in 1991. In 1994, he became a part-time emergency medical service coordinator at the Sutherlin Fire Department and split his time between the two departments for several years.

Sutherlin hired him as its full-time chief in 2002. He continued to coordinate multi-agency projects and a Douglas County rescue team. He also teaches technical rescue skills using ropes and litters in Joshua Tree National Park through a nonprofit organization called Peak Rescue Institute.

Hutchings has an associate of applied science degree from Umpqua Community College, is certified as an Oregon emergency medical technician-paramedic and will receive a bachelor's degree in management from Northwest Christian College in Eugene this spring.

We wanted to strive to emphasize the need for continuing education in the fire service, Curtis said. This chief can model that because he has pursued his education.

Interim Chief Brenda Messmer said the district hired a recruiting firm in August to lead a national search for candidates who could address the district's needs, deal with its experienced team and stay abreast of state and national fire-service issues.

We look forward to getting to know him and supporting him, she said. I know he will support the programs we have here.

Hutchings said he had mixed feelings about leaving the fire department where he grew up, but he admired District No. — as one of the region's top districts and wanted to be part of it.

The more I got to know the staff and the board, the easier the decision got, he said.

Hutchings doesn't plan to make big changes at the district, just guide its continued growth to meet public demands.

They're moving in the right direction, he said. I will try to keep that focus and direction.

Hutchings said his wife, Kathy, who works at the Sutherlin School District, and their two sons, Spencer, 16, and Schuyler, 14, will join him in Jackson County after school lets out for summer.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail Sutherlin fire chief takes Dist. — post"aburke@mailtribune.com.