South Whidbey Fire/EMS welcomes aboard Terry Ney, the new Deputy Chief of Operations. Ney filled the position vacated by Mike Cotton in January.

“We are so excited to have Terry on our team,” said Chief H.L. “Rusty” Palmer. “He has an impressive resume and brings years of experience and fresh ideas.”

Ney has been in the fire service for over 40 years, half of those as a volunteer. He started working as a professional firefighter full time in Clackamas County. Later he was recruited to take the position of assistant fire chief in Sheridan where he quickly rose to fire chief. In 2010 he was hired as fire chief in Lane County where he brought together three fire districts to create a fire authority. At that time, it was the only fire authority of its kind in Oregon.

Ney was very attracted to South Whidbey Fire/EMS because of the strong volunteer program. Marine and rope rescue are areas of particular interest. In fact, he has a U.S. Coast Guard Captain’s license and Master of up to 100 tons. The islands have often been where his family traveled for vacations because they have roots here. In 1926, Ney’s grandfather moved the family to Lummi Island. His parents were married on San Juan Island and his sister and her husband now live on Lopez Island.

“My wife Mary Kaye and I have been into sailing for the last 10 years and every September we’d put our boat in these waters,” he said. “We have literally sailed in and out of Langley and circled the island.”

Ending up permanently on Whidbey Island was not a sudden, spur of the moment thing. It has been on his radar for many years. In fact, almost 30 years ago he applied for the position of maintenance and training officer for Oak Harbor Fire in 1989.

“We’ve been working toward this for some time and are tickled to be here. In fact, we stood in Langley in October and said you know, we could live here. We love the maritime climate, have family nearby, and were really drawn to the arts culture,” said Ney “Then Chief Palmer called with the offer. It was fun to ask my wife, remember that little town in Washington where you wanted to live? Well we are moving there!”

The couple and their three dogs are currently renting on Whidbey Island, but are looking forward to building their dream home, to include a woodworking shop for another of Ney’s passions.