South King Fire and Rescue fire chief Dr. Allen Church beams as he holds up a personalized Minnesota Vikings jersey, gifted to him from his department administration team, at Church’s retirement party on Nov. 8. Photo courtesy of Bruce Honda

South King Fire and Rescue fire chief Dr. Allen Church beams as he holds up a personalized Minnesota Vikings jersey, gifted to him from his department administration team, at Church’s retirement party on Nov. 8. Photo courtesy of Bruce Honda

South King Fire and Rescue fire chief celebrates retirement, 42 years of service to Federal Way

Dr. Allen Church to receive Key to the City at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Dr. Allen Church is a household name in the local first responder community.

The longtime South King Fire and Rescue chief — who dedicated nearly 42 years of service to Federal Way — celebrated his retirement with members of the Federal Way, Des Moines and greater King County communities last week.

Station 62’s engine bay filled with approximately 90 attendees on Friday, Nov. 8 to recognize Church’s retirement, which officially goes into effect on the first of the new year. Chief Vic Pennington will take over as the department’s top command Jan. 1, 2020.

Attendees included South King Fire and Rescue board of commissioners and department employees, SKFR Honor Guard, city leaders, first responder branch partners, community members and family, both relationally and professionally — many of whom referred to Church as a friend.

How you spend your time is ultimately how you spend your life, noted Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell.

“Al has spent his time and his life with us in this community,” he said.

Church has been a foundational leader in the community with intentional and thoughtful actions made with the constituents in mind, Ferrell said.

Next week, Church will be presented with the Key to the City at the Federal Way City Council meeting held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19.

“It is quite an honor for the city to recognize my nearly 42 years of service within the community,” Church told the Mirror.

Church will be the 13th recipient of the Key to the City.

“It’s the highest award we can give in the city and you deserve that,” Ferrell said. “It’s been an honor to work with you.”

The ceremonial passing of authority aired bittersweet, evident in words spoken by friends, coworkers and peers last Friday afternoon.

“It’s one of those days you’d hoped would never come,” said SKFR board chair Bill Gates. On behalf of the board, Gates commended Church for his “stellar and outstanding” performance and dedication to ethics.

“We both decided it was in our best interest to marry our high school sweethearts,” Gates said, smiling at Church’s wife Sue and inviting her to the front of the room. “I want to thank you for a couple things.”

The fire service is a profession that requires major sacrifice from families, Gates said. Although Church initially planned to retire at the beginning of 2019, the department and board convinced him to stay another year, which Gates thanked Sue for allowing Church to spend another year with SKFR.

Church’s leadership was a common theme acknowledged throughout Friday’s celebrations.

“I’ve been impressed with his leadership as the department weathered attacks from the inside and outside, economic downturns, and the loss of our loved ones and friends,” said IAFF Local 2024 President Layne Winter.

Church created a family-first atmosphere within the department, meaning members are encouraged to care for their families and themselves first as Church always reassured “the fire department will still be here when you get back,” Winter noted.

Michele Plorde, director of King County EMS/Medic One, said she doesn’t remember a time where Church wasn’t a presence in the local first responder community.

A friend of Plorde’s told her in the beginning of her career: “Al is the one to trust,” she recalled.

Church received a few parting gifts, including being pinned as an honorary citizen of Des Moines by Mayor Matt Pina, who commended the chief for the reputable department he’s built during his reign.

“Leadership is about leaving a legacy,” said Federal Way police Chief Andy Hwang. “… What made him a great fire chief is that he is a good man; he has a good heart.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Courtesy photo
State demanded more drop boxes, and now it must pay for them

A King County judge says a law requiring more ballot boxes was an illegal unfunded mandate.

Jeanne Burbidge poses with her Help, Hope, Change award. Courtesy photo
First-ever virtual luncheon raises $85,000 for Federal Way’s Multi-Service Center

Jeanne Burbidge was awarded MSC’s second-annual Help, Hope, Change award.

Haley Donwerth/staff photo
The Barco family returns to their Des Moines home for the first time since Bernardo, front, lost his left leg and right arm in a motorcycle crash in December 2018. The Federal Way Mirror’s report on Bernardo Barco’s recovery was honored with a first place award for general feature by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association 2020 Better Newspaper Contest.
Federal Way Mirror earns 7 awards in WNPA’s 2020 Better Newspaper Contest

The Federal Way Mirror’s news team won seven awards in multiple categories… Continue reading

Actors Tom Livingston, left, and Jacob Tice rehearse a scene from Theatre Magic. Courtesy photo
Centerstage Theatre hosts first production of the season

Theatre Magic (And Other Things We Need) premieres Sunday, Oct. 25.

Virginia Mason is hosting its third annual Drug Take Back Event at the Federal Way regional medical center (33501 First Way S.) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24.
Pandemic has increased risk for abuse of unused, expired medications

Community encouraged to participate in Drug Take Back Oct. 24

Blotter
BigFoot Java robbed at gunpoint | Police blotter

Following is a sample from the Federal Way police log Oct. 14-20

An artist’s conception of the proposed sculpture to be placed in the pedestrian plaza of the incoming Federal Way Link Extension.
Elephant sculpture among Sound Transit’s proposed public artwork designs

Designed by Donald Lipski, the concept reflects Federal Way’s rich diversity.

King County 2020 unemployment numbers. Source: Washington State Employment Security Department
Boeing, coronavirus likely to impact King County economy

Unemployment remained high in September.

t
Smith, Basler running for District 9 Congress seat

Republican challenger takes on Democrat incumbent.

Most Read