City announces new fire chief

The City of Homer announced Tuesday that there’s a new fire chief in town, and his name is Mark Kirko.

Kirko is taking over as chief of the Homer Volunteer Fire Department, which has been being run in an interim capacity by former chief Robert Purcell. Kirko replaces former chief Terry Kadel, who the city said was “no longer with” the department in December 2018. Kirko currently serves as the fire chief and CEO for North Whidbey Fire and Rescue in Oak Harbor, Washington. He supervises a crew of six on Whidbey Island, according to a press release from the city.

However, Kirko is no newcomer to Alaska.

“He brings 34 years of experience in fire service to the position, with (25) of those years in Alaska,” the press release states. “Kirko started his fire service working twenty years with the Cordova Volunteer Fire Department.”

After working his way up from a volunteer, he was chief and emergency management director for the Skagway Fire Department for five years.

“The position attracted 46 candidates, but after our lengthy hiring process that includes written responses to questions, two interviews, meetings with career staff, officers, and the volunteer membership, including instructing a section on an emergency service subject, Chief Kirko stood out as a great fit for our fire department and our community,” Purcell said in the release.

City Manager Katie Koester will be the supervisor for the new chief.

“It’s been a pleasure to get to know Chief Kirko during this recruitment process,” she said in the press release. “I’m excited to have him on board, and I’m grateful to Chief Purcell for his dedication and service to the Homer community during this transition time.”

In the release, Kirko said he was impressed with the HVFD facilities on a visit to Homer.

“The (fire department) and (city) staff were friendly, knowledgeable and very professional,” he said in the release. “It is obvious that the residents care deeply for and take great pride in their community. My wife, Jodi, and I cannot wait to get there and establish roots in the community.”

Kirko is scheduled to move to Homer this July.