Courtesy Graham Fire & Rescue: Graham Fire & Rescue Fire Chief Pat Dale retired Friday.
Courtesy Graham Fire & Rescue: Graham Fire & Rescue Fire Chief Pat Dale retired Friday.

Graham Fire & Rescue Fire Chief Pat Dale retired Friday after 40 years in the fire service.

Oscar Espinosa, who previously served as deputy chief, has been selected to serve as the next Graham Fire & Rescue fire chief.

Dale served the Graham community since 2017 and plans to continue teaching fire ground command and firefighting techniques nationally and internationally, from a new home base in Arizona.

Dale began his career as a volunteer firefighter for the Tumwater Fire Department in 1980. He landed his first career firefighter position with the Kent Fire Department, now known as Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority, in 1982 and worked his way through the ranks to battalion chief. In 1998, he joined the Olympia Fire Department and served 16 years as the assistant fire chief and director of training. After retiring from OFD in 2015, Dale was hired to serve as the Fire Service Instructional Program manager at Bates Technical College. In 2017, he was recruited into the position as fire chief at Graham Fire & Rescue.

"In his short time at Graham Fire & Rescue, Chief Dale has made long-lasting impacts that will positively affect the department and the community for years to come,” Graham Fire & Rescue Board of Commissioners Chair Bob Homan said. “His leadership style has created an environment where the employees thrive and enjoy coming to work.”

A few of his many accomplishments include:

• Increasing minimum staffing from 15 to 24 firefighters on duty daily

• Creating three-person engine companies

• Obtaining voter approval for a more stable and sustainable funding solution, known as the benefit charge

• Improving the District’s WSRB rating from a protection class 4 to a protection class 3

• Inspiring a positive and healthy work environment 

"Pat Dale was a mentor and good friend to me throughout my entire career,” retired Olympia Fire Capt. Jim Brown said. “He was the perfect balance between tradition and innovation — respecting the tradition of the fire service and the agency he was working for, while simultaneously moving his agencies forward in the most innovative ways. He is a relational person by nature, and he uses that talent to bring people together, solve problems and celebrate successes. Pat is the kind of leader the fire service needs more of.”