Marc Meredith was sworn in as the new Fire Chief for the Sonoita Elgin Fire District on June 29. During their May 12 meeting, the Sonoita Elgin Fire District (SEFD) Board had unanimously voted to hire him as the new fire chief for the department.
Meredith, who was one of 16 applicants for the job, feels his familiarity with the department, where he has been a member since 2015, was a factor in the board’s decision. “I’ve done every job here that I’m asking somebody else to do,” he said.
The fire service is a second career for Meredith. He worked as a college administrator in California until retiring in 2013, then worked as an EMS trainer for a private company. He and his wife, who has relatives in Sonoita, moved to Patagonia where Meredith began volunteering with the Patagonia Volunteer Fire Dept in 2014. It was there that he trained in wildland fire fighting. “I wouldn’t be sitting in this chair if not for Ike,” Meredith said, referring to Patagonia Fire Department Chief Ike Isaakson.
Meredith began volunteering at the Sonoita Station in 2015. SEFD paid for him to attend the paramedic program at Pima Community College where he now serves as an adjunct professor. He was hired by the station in April 2016 as a wildland firefighter/EMT.
“I am here because I love serving this community. The members of this department are fantastic,” he said.
Meredith will be overseeing 55 employees and volunteers. His priorities include increased training for his members. He listed rope rescue training and hazardous materials handling as two programs he hopes to develop. “We need to be an all-hazards department,” he said. He also wants to build on the existing collaborations with other fire departments in the county.
He would like to see the district be able to pay its employees better, so that they would not lose so many firefighters and EMTs to other departments. Also on his wish list would be a second water tender.
“The entire board was unanimous that we thought Marc was head and shoulders above any of the other applicants,” Chris Johnson, President of the SEFD Board, said. “We’re very glad he has chosen SEFD to continue working in the Chief’s role.” “I’m so grateful for this opportunity,” Meredith said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”