Kirkland City Manager Kurt Triplett announced Joe Sanford has been appointed as the new fire chief for the City of Kirkland, effective May 4. Sanford has spent his entire career with the City of Kirkland and has served as interim fire chief since last fall. He has held every rank in the Kirkland Fire Department since being hired in 1981, including lieutenant, captain, battalion chief, deputy chief and interim chief.
During Sanford’s tenure with Kirkland, he was named Chief of the Year in 2012 and 2014, and was Firefighter of the Year in 1989 and 2001. Sanford was also the manager of the Regional Fire Training Division where he supervised the work of battalion chiefs, captains and staff from Kirkland, Redmond, and Woodinville to provide year round training for nearly 300 firefighters, fire officers and chiefs. He was a Washington State Fire Service Training Academy Instructor and was President of IAFF Local 2545 in the late 1980s.
“Chief Sanford has earned this appointment through his excellent work as the interim fire chief over the past 11 months,” said Triplett. “He has led the department through a challenging leadership transition, helped implement the new north end staffing and station improvement initiative, improved communications between fire administration and firefighters on the line, implemented our new water rescue craft program and much more.”
“The City of Kirkland is fortunate to have a person like Chief Sanford on our team who possesses such integrity and strength of character,” said Mayor Amy Walen. “He has demonstrated his profound commitment to the success of the Kirkland Fire Department and the safety of our residents.”
Sanford had completed training at the National Fire Academy in the executive skills series, tactical operations, incident command large incidents, instructional techniques, and emergency response to terrorism. Prior to becoming a firefighter, Sanford graduated from the University of Washington (UW) with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications.
Sanford also earned a full athletic scholarship to UW as an offensive lineman. He was Coach Don James’ first recruit as he started at UW early in spring ball in 1975. Sanford helped UW become the 1977 Pac-8 Champions, the 1978 Rose Bowl Champions and the 1979 Sun Bowl Champions. He was selected to the All West Coast and All PAC-10 Teams as an offensive lineman and was drafted as an offensive tackle for the New York Giants of the NFL. Sanford and his wife have eight children and eight grandchildren, with a ninth on the way.
“I am honored to be appointed as Chief of the Kirkland Fire Department,” Sanford said. “I work with an extraordinary team of people and I’m proud to serve this wonderful community.”