LIHU‘E — Close to two years since the search began, the Kaua‘i Fire Commission has chosen former Henderson, Nevada Fire Department Fire Chief Steven R. Goble to take the lead of the Kaua‘i Fire Department.
Goble, who retired from the Henderson Fire Department (HFD) after 25 years of service in Jan. 2016, was most recently the Executive Director of Emergency Management for the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas. He will start July 1.
“I am humbled and honored to serve the community alongside the dedicated personnel of the Kaua‘i Fire Department,” Goble said in a press release.
Goble is scheduled to move to the island on June 16 and will undergo a 14-day quarantine despite being an essential worker, according to commission minutes from May 4.
Office of Boards and Commissions Administrator Ellen Ching said, according to the minutes, that there is no way around the quarantine to protect other fire department personnel.
Goble was selected out of 67 applicants vetted by the Fire Commission, chair Alfredo Garces Jr. said in a press release.
“Not only was Steven the best-qualified candidate, he was also the best fit for our community,” Garces said.
Interviews were conducted between March 1-3. The commission considered setting the salary at $107,022 and withhold the remaining $37,000 until completion of a six-month performance evaluation, but that motion failed. The maximum salary was set at $137,022, about $10,000 more than the position made in years past. The position also comes with a uniform allowance and take-home vehicle privilege.
After 20 years with the KFD, Chief Robert Westerman announced his retirement in June 2018, setting off the search for a new replacement to begin Jan. 2019. With no luck, a year after he retired, he was rehired on an 89-day contract, which ended on April 4. Battalion Chief Solomon Kanoho, who was Acting Assistant Fire Chief, was tapped for Acting Chief at the end of this term.
At an April 6 meeting, Ching noted that Kanoho had been taking a lead role in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), including the Deputy Fire Chief’s role and “it would be a seamless transition to have him continue as the Acting Fire Chief.”
At a special meeting on April 20, the commission voted to set Kanoho’s salary at $137,022, foregoing his salary as Battalion Chief so he could appoint another to that position in the interim. When the new chief takes over, Kanoho will return to his original pay.
“The County of Kaua‘i and Kaua‘i Fire Department looks forward to welcoming Chief Goble to the KFD ‘ohana,” Kanoho said in a press release. “Our team will work actively with Chief Goble to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.”
Goble — who previously served as Deputy Fire Chief, Division Chief of Special Operations and Fire Captain — led over 250 full-time firefighters covering more than 105 square miles in Henderson, protecting more than 290,000 and 600,000 annual visitors. Goble holds a Masters of Arts in Homeland Security and Defense from Naval Postgraduate School, a Bachelor of Science in Public Safety Administration from Grand Canyon University and an Associate of Science in Fire Service Management from the College of Southern Nevada.
“I look forward to working with Mayor Kawakami, the Fire Commission, and the island’s first responders. I will be deeply invested in the success of the organization and service to the community,” Goble said. “The success of the Henderson Fire Department was founded in the organizational commitment to customer service, inclusion, and accountability. I plan on mirroring that commitment to the community on Kaua‘i.”
Hawai‘i Fire Fighters Association’s local division Bryan Doo said Monday that the commission has done its due diligence in hiring a new chief. This is the first time the Fire Commission has been tasked with finding a chief, Doo said, so there was a learning curve.
“As the union and department, we had to let the commission do their job in choosing a chief,” Doo said. “We’re excited to have somebody new.”
A virtual Change of Command Ceremony is being planned to be at either the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall or at the County’s Rotunda for July 1.
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.