Allen was one of 22 applicants for the position, and after a three way tie for the top candidate, the Pierce County Fire District 16 Board of Fire Commissioners chose Allen because of his qualifications and because he was an in-house candidate.
Allen was born in Gardner, Kansas but did most of his growing up in Washington state. He graduated from Blaine High School in 1981, but even then he was learning his chosen profession by being a volunteer firefighter his senior year.
In 1982 he was hired by the Blaine Fire District for equipment maintenance. He attended the Washington State Fire Academy in 1983 and in 1989 was promoted to training captain.
In 1994 he advanced to operations captain and in May of 1999 Allen moved to the the Key Peninsula and was hired as the C-shift lieutenant.
In 2005 he served as temporary division chief, a position that became permanent in 2006. By 2012 he was promoted to assistant chief, and in 2014 he served as interim chief until this permanent appointment in August.
Allen is 51 years old and is eligible for retirement at age 53.
“As long as I am physically able to contribute and make a difference, I would like to continue for perhaps another 10 years,” he said.
The chief has financial concerns for the future of the department.
“There are two critical measures coming up in 2016. The maintenance and prevention levies have eight to 10 firefighters’ jobs depending on its passage. There’s also an EMS levy coming up again in 2020 and no vote could cost us half our employees,” Allen said.
Chief Allen’s career really depends on what the future brings.
“There’s a personal limit as to how much human tragedy a person can stand to witness. I haven’t reached my limit yet, but someday I know I will,” he said.
Allen has seen a lot of things during his time as a firefighter.
“The scariest thing I’ve done was respond to a house fire with people trapped inside, and I was all by myself. The funniest thing I’ve responded to was an escaped monkey who entered a stranger’s house, bit him and then ransacked the bedroom.
“My proudest memory is of the day I was picked to be Chief,” he said with a smile.
Chief Allen posts regularly on the district’s “Key Peninsula Fire” Facebook page.
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