Governor Mark Gordon announced in a press release the appointment of Mark Young as Interim State Fire Marshal and Director of the Department of Fire Prevention and Electrical Safety.

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Young replaces Mike Reed, who is retiring after six years as the state fire marshal.

Young was deputy director and assistant state Fire Marshal since 2013 and has served in the Wyoming fire service for 44 years.

While the Department of Fire Prevention and Electrical Safety looks for a new deputy director, Young will serve as both deputy and interim fire marshal.

Young said he doesn't know how long it will take to find a new deputy or when he will officially become the state fire marshal.

He started as a volunteer firefighter in Rawlins, then moved to Casper where he worked with the Casper Fire-EMS Department, serving as Casper Fire Chief from 1999 to 2013.

According to the release, the duties of the state fire marshal include conducting fire and electrical inspections for public buildings in the state, firefighter training, fire, and safety education, conducting non-structural plan reviews on public buildings, and licensing of electricians in the state.

Now that he's marshal, Young said there are several areas he would like to be able to focus on to improve the department.

"What we want to do is to continue to look for opportunities to create more efficiency and cost savings within the department," Young said. "We do that by automating old processes that use a lot of manual work such as phones and paper and pencils. So we've come a long way in modernizing, and there are other opportunities to continue that. We are all responsible for training firefighters in the state. So I'll work with the training division manager setting some initiatives, looking for some things we can do to improve our training processes and how we train firefighters."

A big challenge fire departments in Wyoming are facing is that, because so many areas are covered by volunteers, they are having a hard time finding enough volunteers.

"We don't hire firefighters per se, we have partnerships with all the fire departments and my understanding is that yes if you were to ask all those different fire chiefs, it is a challenge to recruit and hire firefighters, whether they be on a career level or whether they be volunteers," Young said. "80% of our total firefighter workforce in the state are volunteers and I think what I've learned over the last five, six years is that it's extremely difficult to find volunteers and it's not just the fire service, a lot of different walks of life, but fire service definitely a challenge."

Young said he didn't think it would be helpful to increase the number of paid positions to fill in the gaps, because a lot of small communities don't have the resources to support more career firefighters.

Gordon said in the release:

"I would like to thank Director Reed for his work over the past six years, particularly his efforts to modernize the agency and expand its online offerings, at a significant cost-savings to taxpayers," Gordon said. "Mark comes to the position with the knowledge and skills to continue this tradition in his new role."

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