Chief promotes Andrew Howell to Fire Lieutenant
PULLMAN—Fire Lieutenant Chris Wehrung has been named Pullman Fire Prevention officer replacing long time Fire Prevention Officer Rich Dragoo who plans on retiring in February.
The promotion of Wehrung created an opening for Lieutenant and following a written test, an assessment center ranking, and an interview, Chief Mike Heston named senior firefighter Andrew Howell as the new lieutenant for the department.
Wehrung first joined the department in 1997 as a reserve firefighter. He has been a career firefighter with Pullman since 2000 and became a lieutenant in 2012. Heston said the department had a number of qualified candidates who applied for the position from several states. “It’s great when we can promote someone from inside the department who took the initiative to increase their skills and experience to advance their careers in the fire service,” Heston said.
Wehrung came to Pullman in 1982 to attend Washington State University where he received a degree in construction management. It was also at WSU where he met his wife, Nancy, who grew up in Pullman and whose grandparents were the Koppels of Koppel Farms, now a community garden on Pioneer Hill.
He said he is grateful to be able to work alongside veteran fire inspector Dragoo in the months ahead before Dragoo retires. “He has a wealth of knowledge with all his experience and I appreciate being able to work with him between now and February,” Wehrung said.
To prepare for the new position, Wehrung said his experience in the construction industry in Pullman--before becoming a firefighter—has given him some great practical experience that will help in reviewing construction plans which is part of the job. He has also taken a number of online fire courses and is certified in basic fire inspection and code council. He recently completed a course in person at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland in fire inspection principles.
Howell started with the Pullman department as a reserve firefighter in 2000 and became a career firefighter in 2003. Heston said that Howell has tremendous leadership qualities and was highly respected by his fellow firefighters who considered him as a leader in the department. He was the incident commander on the multi-million dollar Grove Apartment fire in 2013 and received commendations for his leadership on that fire. He has served the department as an instructor in wildland firefighting and hazmat. He has served as the coordinator for the Pullman hazmat team that is now coordinating with the Lewiston Fire Department. Howell, a native of Pullman and a Pullman High School graduate, served with the Pullman Police Department reserves from 1992 to 2000 and received awards as a reserve police officer.
(Written by Glenn Johnson, PFD/PIO)