Skip to main content


May contain: person, human, military, officer, and military uniform

South Whidbey Fire/EMS names new fire chief

A new fire chief has been hired to lead South Whidbey Fire/EMS beginning April 9. Nicholas Walsh will succeed Chief H.L. “Rusty” Palmer, who announced his retirement last year, having served the department since 2010. The selection was made by the Fire Commissioners following an extensive search and intense interview process.

Walsh leaves his position at the Anacortes Fire Department where he has worked since 2007, most recently in the role as Division Chief of Training and EMS. During his tenure, in addition to his duties, he represented the Anacortes Fire Department on the Skagit County Emergency Medical Services Advisory Board and the North Region Trauma Care Council. He also served on the City of Anacortes Emergency Operations Team. During COVID 19 he was assigned to the role of Safety Officer for Skagit County’s Emergency Response team.

Walsh was actually born on Whidbey Island but grew up in Skagit County and is excited about joining the island community.

“I like the rural feel of the South Whidbey area in combination with the vibrant towns,” he wrote in his application. “It seems the community is very engaged and involved in its government services and community. The value of that cannot be overstated.”

South Whidbey Fire/EMS provides emergency services to 15,600 people over 66 square miles. The fire district has both full-time personnel and volunteers, but relies heavily on volunteers to respond to calls reaching a record high of 2,860 in 2021.

Join our mailing list