Gearhart Fire Chief Bill Eddy will be stepping down from his role.
Eddy has served as chief since 2000 and has been with the fire department since 1981. No firm retirement date has been set.
City Administrator Chad Sweet announced Eddy’s retirement at a City Council meeting last week.
“I’m getting a little bit up there in age,” Eddy, who turns 67 in April, said. “It’s probably time to let somebody else take it to the next level.”
The Eddy family arrived in Gearhart in the 1960s when Eddy’s father, William Lloyd Eddy, was named Gearhart police chief. The younger Eddy worked as a beverage account manager before joining the fire department, serving under chiefs Bruce Maltman, Randy Curs, Preston Devereaux and Jim Pesonen before being named chief.
“Back then, it was a lot different than it is today,” Eddy said. “As long as you were a warm body, they took you. We didn’t even run a hundred calls a year back then. I don’t even want to guess what the numbers were. Somebody pretty much sponsored you or brought you in. They said, ‘Here’s your gear, here’s the truck and here’s how you use it.’”
During his years as chief, he faced several challenges, including the 2007 storm. He responded to an air crash in Gearhart in August 2008 that killed five family members and participated in countless beach rescues, fireworks and mutual aid calls throughout Clatsop County and beyond.
He traveled with crews to wildfires in Oregon three times and to Santa Rosa, California, in 2017.
Eddy spent many years advocating for a replacement to the firehouse building, constructed in 1958 and considered vulnerable in an earthquake and tsunami.
Gearhart voters turned down a request for a fire station in 2006 when the city wanted to construct a municipal building that combined the firehouse with City Hall. A new proposal at the High Point site on North Marion is undergoing review.
While Eddy said he is saddened that a new firehouse has yet to be built, he has hopes his successor will be able to fulfill that goal.
His successor will be chosen by a committee, with input from Eddy.
The City Council will discuss next steps before their regular March meeting.
“It’s been an interesting ride, I can tell you that,” Eddy said. “I’ve seen a lot of things changed in the fire service, a lot of things for the good, some of the things not for the good.
“Volunteerism is not what it used to be, that’s probably not one of the good things. But as far as the quality of volunteers that we have now across the county, volunteers are a lot more educated and trained than we were when I first started, not only for fire but for the EMS (Emergency Medical Services) side.”