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Unalaska Hires New Fire Chief To Start In April

Berett Wilber/KUCB


The City of Unalaska has hired a fire chief. 

The position has been vacant since Ramona Thompson was fired from the position last October after about a year and a half leading the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services.

The new hiree, Patrick Shipp, will be moving north shortly from Webster, Texas. While there, he served as Fire Chief for almost twelve years. He also served in the U.S. Coast Guard. 

According to a Houston NBC-affiliate news outlet, last year, Shipp was briefly suspended from his position. When he applied for the job in 2008, Shipp neglected to include his criminal record — which includes a DWI in the 1980s and felony theft in the 1990s, for which he later received a deferred adjudication. 

City Manager Erin Reinders said the city conducted extensive background and reference checks on Mr. Shipp.

"I also did talk with him directly about [how] a simple google search comes up with this news article," said Reinders. "He was very candid with his response. Based on that response and our holistic background check process, I am a hundred-percent confident there is no risk here and he's going to be an amazing fire chief for our newly stand-alone fire department. He'll be a great fit here for the community and City of Unalaska."

The city had a total of eight fire chief applicants during its search process which were then narrowed down to three finalists. All finalists received a telephone interview, an onsite interview, reference checks, and background checks.  This is the city's first recruiting effort since fire chief was reclassified as an executive-level position.

The city is still looking to fill its police chief and finance director positions. 

Meanwhile, Fire Captain Mike Hanson is serving as acting director of the fire department, which hasn't had a long-term leader since the early 2000s.

Caroline reported for KUCB in 2020.
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