AND THEN THERE WERE THREE – Jayson Withers, middle, and Jamie Jurdi, left, will work under new Fire District 13 Chief Wood Weiss in 2019 as assistant fire chiefs. They will replace, if not fill the shoes of, Chief Roy Horn, who is inimitable and retiring come December 31. – Photo by Ken Stern
Wood Weiss is used to taking big steps. The Fire District 13 assistant chief is a regular participant in the annual Columbia Tower Stair Climb in Seattle, a major fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. “It’s 69 flights of stairs, over 1,300 steps,” siad Weiss, a chiropractor, firefighter and emergency medical technician. Soon he’ll take a big career step as well, and add another hat – make that, fire helmet – to his resume. Weiss has been tabbed by District 13 Commissioners to succeed longtime Fire Chief Roy Horn at the end of the year. Horn is retiring Dec. 31 after nearly two decades as a local firefighter, starting at age 50 with his service in the Hope Island Fire Department, and rising to District 13 chief in 2003. He expects a seamless transition to Weiss, with whom Horn has served since the late 1990s. “I’m real confident passing the torch,” Horn told the Weekly News in late June. “Thanks to guys like Woodie my job has been easier.” The feeling is mutual. “It’ll be a tough act to follow,” Weiss said of Horn. “I like to compare it to a popular restaurant that changes ownership. If the new owner changes the menu a lot, things usually don’t go well. I plan going off this guy’s menu for quite a while.” Weiss plans to prioritize wildland fire safety protection early in his tenure and intends to remain an active firefighter as well as the District’s lead administrator. He will be aided by Jamie Jurdi and Jayson Withers, who will move up as assistant fire chiefs on Jan. 1. Jurdi, like Horn and Weiss, has 20 years of firefighting under his belt. Horn said Withers has proven himself to be “a smart, young, dedicated firefighter” during his five years with the District. District 13 Commission Chair Chuck Hedlund said the concept of co-assistant chiefs is fairly new, but necessary given modern demands placed on fire protection services. “Our call volumes are such,” said Hedlund, “that we need that level of support.” Hedlund said Weiss’s salary as Fire Chief is yet to be determined. For his part, Weiss, who doubles as District 13 medical officer, is fully invested in his pending new role. He said he will be easing out of his chiropractic practice to be a fully hands-on fire chief instead.