The Wellington Fire Protection District (WFPD) Board of Directors has named Fire Chief Michael Patterson the new fire chief of WFPD. Chief Patterson has been serving as the interim fire chief since mid-October 2021.
Following the retirement of the previous fire chief in August of 2021, the Board of Directors conducted a search to fill the interim fire chief role. Chief Patterson and a recently retired local fire chief were named the two finalists for the interim position. Following background and reference checks and an interview of the candidates conducted by the WFPD Board of Directors and WFPD line firefighters during an open Board of Directors meeting, Chief Patterson was selected to fill the interim fire chief position.
Chief Patterson began his firefighting career as a volunteer firefighter in 1984 for the Brighton Fire Department in Brighton, Colorado. He then returned to his home state of California, where he returned to college and obtained his EMT certification in 1991. In 1992, he was hired by a private firm to provide fire, EMS, and security services to a trio of IBM facilities located in San José, California. He also served as a paid-on-call reserve firefighter for the South Santa Clara County Fire District beginning in 1994. He completed his AS Degree in Fire Science Technology from Mission College in 1996.
In 1997 he was hired as a firefighter/EMT by the San José Fire Department, where he rose through the ranks, ultimately retiring as the Deputy Fire Chief of Operations. The City of San José is the 11th largest city in the nation, and the fire department is a metropolitan fire department with over 700 uniformed and 100 civilian positions. It operates out of 34 fire stations, covering 206 square miles. Responding to over 85,000 incidents a year, the department protects visitors, businesses, and over 1 million residents. The fire department budget at the time was over $250 million.
When asked how previous years of experience prepared him for this new role, Chief Patterson shared, “While the service area and department are different than Wellington’s, my experiences at San Jose Fire Department exposed me to a wide range of routine and emergency incidents. As Fire Chief, I can draw upon these experiences, helping us best deliver the vital services that our residents expect.”
Chief Patterson spent the previous 2 1⁄2 years before he was appointed interim fire chief serving as the Executive Chief and Training Academy Manager for the Front Range Fire Consortium, a 10-member group of fire agencies located along the Colorado front range. He oversaw the structure and delivery of the training for recruits in the fire academy and professional development program management for the consortium.
Chief Patterson has been a resident of the fire district for almost seven years. When asked why he wants to continue his fire service career, he said, “As a resident of the district, I felt a calling to bring my knowledge, skills, and experience to serve the residents, visitors, businesses, and members of the fire district in any way possible. I’m honored and grateful for this opportunity to continue the work that has been done thus far and look forward to the future.”
A formal swearing-in and badge pinning ceremony, and an open house at the main fire station, are in the final planning stages. Information will be posted on the district website www.wfpd.org and shared through their social media pages.