Fire chief named

A deputy fire chief from Beverly Hills, Calif., is set to become Ashland's next fire chief.

Out of four finalists for the top position at Ashland Fire & Rescue, Mayor John Stromberg has selected John Karns "because of his extensive experience working in city fire departments," the city announced Wednesday.

Before the city officially hires Karns, the appointment must be approved by the City Council — a typically rubber-stamp process — at its next meeting on May 19.

Karns, who has 25 years of firefighting experience, has already accepted the city's offer for the position, Stromberg said in a news release. The salary for the job starts in the low $100,000-range and includes a retirement plan, health benefits and use of a vehicle for city business, according to the city brochure on the position.

"I'm delighted to have been offered the position and I am eager to get started," Karns said in the release. "I have heard high praise for the City of Ashland Fire and Rescue Department staff and look forward to working with them, the City Council, and Ashland citizens. My wife and I look forward to becoming a part of the Ashland community."

The city hired a private recruiter to help find its next fire chief when Keith Woodley retired from the position in December, after 17 years with Ashland Fire & Rescue. Since then, Larry Langston, a former fire chief in Bend and Anchorage, Alaska, has served as the city's interim fire chief. There were no internal applicants for the job, so the city conducted a national search to fill the position, bringing the top four applicants to Ashland last month for interviews.

"I am convinced it was worth the effort to get a person with the right skills and who will also fit with our staff and the community," Stromberg said.

Karns worked his way up in the Beverly Hills Fire Department, starting as a firefighter, moving up to fire captain and battalion chief positions, and serving as the deputy fire chief, a second-in-command position, for the past two years, according to the city.

If the council confirms Karns' appointment, he will start work in Ashland in mid-June, the city said.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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