On Wednesday, October 18th, the Woodburn Fire District welcomed Division Chief Jim Walker during a swearing-in ceremony held at the district’s monthly board of directors meeting. Chief Walker is filling a vacancy following the retirement of Division Chief Scott Heesacker.

Chief Walker comes to the Woodburn Fire District with 38 years of fire service experience including five years as the Fire Operations Director for the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and six years as the Oregon State Fire Marshal. In his ODF director role, Walker directed the ODF Incident Management Teams as well as the logistical support for each team, state aviation resources, ODF statewide training and the Interagency 20-person fire crew agreements. ODF Fire Protection protects 16 million acres of Forest land across the state.  As the State Fire Marshal, Walker served as the Administrative Commander of the state fire service responsible for the effective and efficient management of state provided resources.  He managed Agency resources to minimize fire & life safety hazards of structures, equipment and materials exposed to fire risk to a reasonable and acceptable level. Most recently, Walker worked as the Division Chief of Community Risk Reduction for the Canby Fire District.

Walker holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and has completed extensive post graduate study including Crisis Leadership training through Harvard University. Walker is certified as a Type 1 All Hazards Incident Commander. Type 1 incident management teams are responsible for the management of large-scale disasters including earthquakes, hurricanes, train derailments and large conflagrations.  In his Operations Chief role, Walker led a force of more than 5,000 wildland firefighters in response to the Biscuit Fire that blackened 500,000 acres of the southern Oregon coast range in 2002.

“Jim’s extensive administrative and leadership experience at the highest levels of state government and the management of large-scale disasters are invaluable to the Woodburn Fire District and the residents of the north Willamette Valley region”, commented WFD Fire Chief Joe Budge during the introduction of Walker at the oath-of office ceremony.

Walker’s duties with the fire district include the oversight of the district’s emergency response operations and the training and certification of the district’s 16 career and 25 volunteer firefighters. In addition to his administrative assignments, Walker will put his incident command experience to work in the management of structure and wildland fires, multiple vehicle accidents, multi-casualty incidents and hazardous material releases that often requires extensive resources and assistance from neighboring agencies to bring under control.

Chief Walker and his wife Kathi live in Canby. They have two grown children and two grandchildren.