Interim Chief Manch Garhart Leads GVF&R
By Marc Donadieu
Glacier City Gazette
Ken Waugh, Chairman, Girdwood Fire Department Board of Directors (GFBoD) announced Manch Garhart accepted the position of Interim Chief, Girdwood Volunteer Fire & Rescue (GVF&R) after a Jan. 8 executive session.
“Chief John Banning submitted his resignation on New Year’s Eve,” Waugh said. “The GFBoD along with the Girdwood Board of Supervisors (GBOS) in consultation with the Anchorage Fire Department (AFD) met to discuss the problem. The board, in executive session, elected to appoint Manch Garhart as the Interim Chief. We had a meeting with Manch this morning, and he has accepted that position on somewhat short notice.”
Waugh said Banning was not a good fit within the department and declined to go further. Waugh also acknowledged that GVF&R was a department in transition.
“It’s fair to say we’re in a rebuilding phase within the fire department,” Waugh said. “There has always been a cyclical pattern to membership. Where we’re at right now truly is nothing new. We are about to have a pretty robust recruitment effort within the community in the valley.”
The department has open positions and new members on the way, Waugh says. GVF&R is looking to recruit more members from Girdwood to Anchorage. He said GVF&R and GFBoD have GBOS support. In addition, the department would receive assistance from AFD if needed in an emergency.
Waugh stated that Chief Banning’s hire represented the first active, outside search for a chief by GFBoD. Before that action, someone from the community was nominated or somebody stepped into the position. Waugh was optimistic a search for a new chief would be shorter than the previous.
“We expect it to be an expedited process,” Waugh said. “We’re going to primarily focus on candidates within the state with ties to the community or people who have previously lived in this state. We feel that is within the community’s best interest and within the best interest of the department to have people come in who have some idea of what Girdwood is about and what the weather holds for them, what Alaska is. As you know, Alaska is a place you love or can’t wait to get out of.”