Meet Your Commissioners

James Barnfather, Fire Commissioner: Commissioner Barnfather is proud to have served over 40 years in the fire service. After college, much of his career was spent serving with the Seattle Fire Department, where he earned credentials as a Heart Monitor Specialist, Senior Engineering Instructor, and Certified Teacher. Among his accomplishments in public education, was the “Move Right for Sirens and Lights” campaign, which was adopted by every major fire department, police department, and the Washington State Patrol. For his community service, he received the highest honor bestowed by Seattle’s Mayor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. After retirement to Sequim, he found the beauty of Clallam County and relaxed pace of life to be just what he was looking for. He was elected to the Board of Commissioners in 2008 and is now in his eighth year. He has continued his commitment to advancing fire service issues by obtaining training in Fire Service Law, Public Records, Open Public Meetings, Strategic Planning, and Leadership.

Commissioner Barnfather’s commitment to community service also includes serving on the Board of Trustees of the Sequim Valley Airport, Chairman of the Highland Hills Homeowner’s Association, Publisher of the quarterly Pilot’s newsletter, and being an active member of the Sequim Chamber of Commerce. Some of his hobbies include flying, fishing, restoring classic cars, remodeling and restoring old houses, working with a rescue dog, and gentleman farming. 

Michael Gawley, Fire Commissioner: Upon retiring in 2005 after a rewarding 32 year career with the Federal Aviation Administration, first as an Air Traffic Controller, and eventually as an Administrative Support Specialist and Computer Programmer, Gawley moved to Sequim and very soon after joined District 3 as a Volunteer Firefighter. About a year later Gawley obtained his EMT certification and continues to serve in that role today. In February 2014, and after the resignation of one of the Board of Commissioners members, Gawley was appointed by the remaining two Commissioners to serve out the remainder of that term. Prior to the expiration of that term, Gawley successfully campaigned for the position and was elected to serve an additional six years. His present term will expire at the end of December, 2021. Meanwhile, he is very happy living in Sunland with his wife of 50+ years, enjoying his involvement with Clallam County Fire District 3, spending time with his grandchildren, and leisurely traveling the roads of the Peninsula on his motorcycle when time and weather permit.

Steve Chinn, Fire Commissioner: Commissioner Chinn was appointed by the District’s Board of Commissioners in July of 2016 to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Commissioner Richard Houts. Commissioner Chinn volunteered with Jefferson County Fire District 5 from 1989-1993. In 1993, he moved to Sequim and served as a volunteer firefighter/ EMT before being promoted to his eventual rank of Captain, which he held until his retirement in 2014. He was an active member of the wildland team for 17 years. Commissioner Chinn also served as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Fire District from 2010-2014.  Commissioner Chinn spent 31 years as a teacher in both the Chimacum and Sequim School Districts.  He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Central Washington University and a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Portland State University. In addition to teaching in the classroom, he spent over 25 years coaching middle and high school wrestling.