HANFORD — With construction on Fire Station 3 almost finished and the department’s first ladder truck on the way, changes are coming to the Hanford Fire Department.
One of those changes included saying farewell to Hanford’s Fire Chief of four years, Chris Ekk. Ekk, whose last day on the job was Friday, accepted a deputy fire chief position with the city of Clovis Fire Department.
Ekk, a 19-year veteran of the Hanford Fire Department, was hired as a firefighter in 2000 and was promoted to engineer in 2003. In 2006 he made captain and later battalion chief in 2013, before being sworn in as chief in 2015.
During Ekk’s tenure as chief, construction on a third fire station began in February 2018 and the Hanford City Council approved the purchase of a ladder truck later that year — two longtime goals for the department.
Station 3 is very close to being ready for use, Ekk said. He said the furniture and equipment is almost done, they are just waiting on some internal functions to be installed, like internet, phone lines and radios.
After everything is installed, he said the department will run some tests, get coordinated with the dispatch center and practice its functionality before units will be able to locate there full time.
“It’s a beautiful station,” Ekk said, adding it should be fully operational sometime in May.
As for the new ladder truck, Ekk said that its customization — taking place at a manufacturer in Wisconsin — is progressing nicely.
The Velocity 110-foot platform ladder truck will have a platform at the end of the ladder that can hold three firefighters at a time. The ladder is the largest that can be purchased and will be the tallest ladder truck in Kings County, which will help increase rescue capabilities.
While a timeline is tentative, the department is hoping the ladder truck will be ready by the end of May. Before it’s used, though, Ekk said firefighters will be trained on how to drive and operate it.
Additionally, HFD just hired two new firefighters and two more are in the pre-employment process. Ekk said three of those positions were made possible by a SAFER grant that was awarded to the department by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) last year.
This is the first time the department has added personnel since 2002 and Ekk said it will greatly improve service
Ekk said everything the fire department has been able to accomplish comes from the hard work of not just him, but everyone at the department, along with the City Council and other departments in the city.
“I’m proud of what we’ve all been able to accomplish in the last four years,” he said. “We’ve been working on these things for a long time and I’m proud to have been a part of that.”
Ekk said working at the Hanford Fire Department has been rewarding, and there is still much left to do in the future. He said he knows the department, which was established in 1891, will keep moving forward and continue to accomplish its goals.
“It was an honor to serve this community,” Ekk said.
He said the hardest part will be missing his “second family” at the fire department, though he knows the community will be in good hands.
Hanford City Manager Darrel Pyle thanked Ekk for what he was able to accomplish with the department in his time as chief.
“Hats off to Chris,” he said. “We wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”
Pyle said Battalion Chief Erik Brotemarkle will take over as interim chief while the city begins its search for a new chief.
He said recruitments documents will be posted soon, but doesn’t expect someone to be hired right away. After going through the necessary steps, he said someone may be hired in the summertime, possibly July at the earliest.