She served six fire chiefs and even more fire commissioners through good times and bad for the KP fire district — and herself — helping to build an accounting system and plan budgets while ably answering to state auditors and trying to keep a growing department on track.
On August 13, Executive Assistant Christina Bosch, 52, will leave her office of 22 years for the last time. But “executive assistant” hardly covers it.
“I do all of the budgeting, all of the reporting,” she said. “I do payroll. I’m the records custodian, so I’m also the district secretary. I do HR, I do all the benefit administration, reporting, all of it. Over the years I’ve created systems that reduce some of the workload, so I don’t work as hard as I used to. I used to put in 50 or 60 hours a week. But now it’s a pretty level 40.”
She will begin her new job as finance director for the Vashon Island Fire District September 1.
“I think I’ve been ready for a new challenge, and this is going to be a total rebuild from the bottom up in their finance department. I’m actually taking a substantial pay cut to do it.”
Bosch grew up in the Spanaway-Graham area and had crossed the Narrows Bridge only once when she was 16 to train at the Gig Harbor Safeway for a grocery store job. The next time was years later to visit the Key Peninsula.
“I had a friend that was dating somebody here. I stopped by her house, and this other guy was there. That was only the second time I ever crossed the bridge until suddenly I met this — person — who lived all the way out here, and that’s how I ended up living here.”
Robert Bosch wrote on his calendar that day that he’d met his future wife. They were married a year and a day later in August 1990. They have three children.
Robert was already a firefighter working for the KP fire department at the time and would later become a paramedic, and eventually a battalion chief.
“I knew a lot of the people here (at KPFD), but I wasn’t heavily involved in anything,” Christina said. She was invited to apply for a part-time accounts payable position opening. “My kids were all in school by then, I was tired of being a stay-at-home mom without a lot to do. It was going to be a part-time gig for a little while, and that was it.”
She didn’t get it. But six months later, the person who did get it was gone and she applied again and started work July 1, 2000.
When her boss left in April 2002, Christina stepped up temporarily. “And they kept me there,” she said.
“I’m built for it, I guess. I love the numbers; I love fixing problems within those numbers. I love finding ways of doing things better. I love it, I do.”
Christina has worked for six fire chiefs: Gary Franz, Eric Nelsen, Tom Lique, Guy Allen, Dustin Morrow, and now Nick Swinhart.
Her first big challenge was Nelsen, who developed a substance abuse issue that interfered with his job.
“There was a lot of work that wasn’t getting done that I felt needed to be done,” she said. “It was really trying to cover him in hopes that he could get better. It was a very difficult time. But I felt like I had something to prove, that I could really do the job, so I stayed.”
Lique took over to run the department through another tumultuous time, culminating with then fire commissioner Allen Yanity repeatedly smashing a coffee cup over the head of fire commission chair Jim Bosch, Christina’s father-in-law, during a meeting in 2007. Yanity made many demands on staff and his fellow commissioners to advance an agenda of reforms, in his view, and lost patience with the senior Bosch’s efforts to contain him.
Yanity was convicted of misdemeanor assault but remained a commissioner a few more years before dropping out prior to the end of his term.
“Tom (Lique) did a fantastic job shielding the staff for the most part (from Yanity); obviously he couldn’t shield us from everything,” Christina said. “There was a period of time when I thought I’m going to have to be done here, but I needed the position for the stability of my family.”
In 2010, then Battalion Chief Robert Bosch was terminated after an off-duty incident.
“Those were very, very difficult days,” Christina said. “I was trying to figure out how am I going to get through this. My husband’s name is all over the place and it’s not positive, but knowing that I was currently the breadwinner of the family I had to push through. I did start searching for other employment, but employers wanted degrees, and I didn’t have one.”
It took five years, but she earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration in 2016.
Robert was reinstated as a new firefighter in 2011 after arbitration. Assistant Fire Chief Guy Allen succeeded Lique to the top job in 2014.
“Now I thought it’s time, I’m going to go, but things were just so good,” Christina said. “I had a good relationship with Guy, a good relationship with the board.” Her relationship with her father-in-law, Jim Bosch, the chair of the board, had become strained during the Yanity years. But he had finished his term and was gone too.
In 2017, her husband Robert was promoted to lieutenant for the second time. He made captain in 2020.
“When Guy announced his retirement (in 2019), once again I was thrown for a loop thinking maybe it is time for me to go,” she said.
“I met (Chief) Dustin (Morrow) and I thought I’m going to see what this person is all about. We immediately had a working relationship that went very well. So, I stayed.”
Morrow started April 1, 2019, and implemented many changes to operations and logistics, worked to update procedures and equipment, and brought on 12 new hires in the next two and a half years.
“That’s time consuming and it’s exhausting for a little organization like this,” Christina said. “You don’t have the people to spread the work around.”
Morrow left KPFD for the top job at Central Pierce Fire & Rescue December 1.
After Chief Swinhart was hired to replace him, Christina received a call from Vashon Island.
“(They) asked what it would take to get me to move over there,” she said. “I laughed.”
But the calls continued.
“It’s smaller; 13 full-time firefighters and a couple of part-timers. They have a new ops chief, a new admin. assistant, no HR person, no finance person. It’s a total rebuild,” she said.
“I feel like I’ve accomplished all that I can here, and I feel a little bit stagnant, and that’s not fair to this district. They need somebody fresh, energetic, and maybe a fresh perspective on the finances. I would like to leave on a better financial note, obviously. I wish I could have done something to improve on that, but things happened that were far beyond anybody’s control.
“I’m excited about my future but this is hard, harder than I expected it to be. Being a part of all the changes along the way has been pretty great. Really great.”
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