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New King County fire marshal targets unincorporated county areas

Last month's loss of a King County fire marshal doesn't need to cause Federal Way residents any alarm.

South King Fire and Rescue has had its own fire marshal for several years. Now, newly appointed Fire Marshal Gordie Olson has been "voluntold" by Chief Al Church for a new committee on what to do with those areas in unincorporated King County. Olson has also been named the liaison between the King County Fire Chief's Association and the King County Fire Prevention Association, which is made up of fire marshals and fire prevention personnel from King County fire departments.

Olson was chosen as the new fire marshal after Ron Biesold retired in January.

In Federal Way, the fire marshal does fire code enforcement and fire investigation, and reviews building plans for fire-related issues with the city's building department.

In the past, outside of the city limits in unincorporated King County, the county building department and the fire marshal's office did the fire code enforcement and plan reviews. Fire investigations have been done through the King County Sheriff's Department since 2006, Olson said. There was talk back then of eliminating the King County fire marshal position, he added, and the position was eliminated last month. The fire code and and plan review was turned over the King County building department.

However, Olson said that the King County code inspection and plans review division is "probably understaffed."

In addition, with the building department taking over the duties of the fire marshal, there is no longer someone with a background in the fire service.

To combat these issues, the King County Fire Chiefs Association is studying options for fire code protection and enforcement in the unincorporated areas of King County, including those areas just outside of Federal Way.

Olson is serving on that committee, after he joked that Chief Al Church pinched his arm to force him to quickly volunteer for the job — or as Church put it, he "voluntold" him for the job.

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