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Article updated: 2/21/2013 6:43 PM

Bensenville fire district veteran moving west

Longtime Bensenville Fire Protection District Batallion Chief Larry Karp is stepping down this month to become chief of a small fire department in Washington.

Longtime Bensenville Fire Protection District Batallion Chief Larry Karp is stepping down this month to become chief of a small fire department in Washington.

 

Courtesy Larry Karp

Longtime Bensenville Fire Protection District Batallion Chief Larry Karp is stepping down this month to become chief of a small fire department in Washington.

Longtime Bensenville Fire Protection District Batallion Chief Larry Karp is stepping down this month to become chief of a small fire department in Washington.

 

Courtesy Larry Karp

Longtime Bensenville Fire Protection District Batallion Chief Larry Karp is stepping down this month to become chief of a small fire department in Washington.

Longtime Bensenville Fire Protection District Batallion Chief Larry Karp is stepping down this month to become chief of a small fire department in Washington.

 

Courtesy Larry Karp

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Bensenville Fire Protection District Batallion Chief Larry Karp is ready to settle into a recliner after 28 years on the job.

But he'll be settling into a recliner in the Pacific Northwest, and his fire radio won't be far behind.

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Karp, 50, officially will retire from the Bensenville district on March 7. On March 28, he will begin his new $62,500-a year job as chief of the Quilcene Volunteer Fire Department in Jefferson County, Wash.

"I knew it was time for me to step away from Bensenville but not away from the fire protection industry entirely," Karp said. "So I began researching jobs in parts of the country that I thought my wife and I might like to spend a few years exploring and setting down some roots. Quilcene fit the bill."

The district, which consists of roughly 800 residents spread across 80 square miles, will provide a much needed change of pace, he said. And the tallest building in town is a two-story school.

"In January we ran 400 calls (in Bensenville). Quilcene is lucky to run about 300 in a year," Karp said. "I'm technically retiring so I'm OK with things slowing down a bit."

Herb Beck, chairman of the Quilcene Fire Department board of commissioners, was unavailable Thursday but recently told the Peninsula Daily News that Karp was selected from a pool of 46 candidates that was eventually whittled down to three and then one.

Karp said he's being brought in to to "restore some professionalism and fire knowledge" to a department that has gone nearly two years without a full-time chief. He also expects his grant-writing skills, which he said brought more than $305,0000 worth of equipment to Bensenville, to be put to use in Quilcene.

When he's away from the fire station, Karp said he hopes to finally use his mountain bike as it was intended, in the mountains, and to do some hiking.

"We'll be living just outside of Olympic National Forest and the mountains and trails there are gorgeous. So we'll be hiking" Karp said. "I also told my wife (Denise) that if she puts up with me through this transition we can get a small boat to keep in the bay."

Karp said his shift took him out for a "fancy" dinner last weekend and a retirement party is being planned for mid-March.

"It'll be a party all right," Karp said. "These young guys are ready to run the (Bensenville) district now and they're ready for me to leave."

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