Benton County gets new fire chief - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Benton County gets new fire chief

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WEST RICHLAND, Wash. -- After a four month search, Benton County Fire District # 4 now has a new chief.

Bill Whealan was chosen to take over former Chief Mike Spring's position. Spring left in March to become battalion chief for the Hanford Fire Department. Whealan is currently serving in a similar position in California.

He has about three decades of experience, mostly in Las Vegas. Fire officials likeBenton County Fire Commissioner, A. J. Hill say the experience a big city background brings will be helpful in West Richland, "over the last ten years, West Richland and Fire District  # 4, we've grown about 38 percent in population and it slowed down some, but it doesn't seem to be stopping."

The new chief, Bill Whealan thinks his past will help him in this job, "I've got 28 1/2 years that I spent in Las Vegas and anything from very small calls to very very large high rise fires there."

In the last four months, the position has been filled by two rotating captains within the department. Whealan's first day on the job is August 8th.