It is with deepest sorrow that we at San Juan District 3 Fire Department inform you of the passing of our beloved Fire Chief, Steve Marler, on January 28, 2016.
Originally from BC, Canada, Steve moved to California as a child and slowly gained interest in firefighting. He attended Columbia Junior College to study fire science. Upon program completion in 1979 he became the only paid firefighter for the Ceres Fire Department. Steve quickly became enamored with one of his dispatchers and married Karen Carson on March 20, 1982. “I married her because she told me where to go”.
Steve and Karen moved to Sonoma after falling in love with the area while on vacation. Chief Marler was hired as full-time Fire Captain to serve as the City of Sonoma’s Fire Marshal on September 16, 1983. Steve was promoted to Assistant Chief in 1990 and was later reclassified as a Division Chief upon the formation of the Sonoma Valley Fire & Rescue Authority. Steve also helped start the “Are you OK?” program to check on seniors and served as the Interim Fire Chief until his departure in August 2007.
The Marlers moved to Friday Harbor, WA where Steve became the Fire Chief of San Juan District 3 Fire Department. He loved being part of a small, volunteer-driven department again. Under Chief Marler’s command the Friday Harbor and District Fire Departments merged to become the San Juan County District 3 Fire Department to serve the entirety of San Juan Island and surrounding outer islands. Chief Marler also oversaw the purchasing of a complete new fleet of fire engines without having to rely on taxpayers for additional funding. Chief Marler was a true advocate for Volunteer Firefighters, a pioneer in residential sprinkler system ordinances, and served with calming leadership in all his endeavors.
A memorial service celebrating Steve’s life will be held on Saturday, February 27, 2016 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Station 31 Fire Station, 1011 Mullis Street, Friday Harbor, WA 98250. The memorial will be a potluck (Steve’s favorite type of gathering); please bring a dish to share if desired. All attendees are encouraged to wear dark pants and a “loud” shirt.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Fire Science Scholarship Fund through the San Juan Island Firefighter’s Association, also located at 1011 Mullis St, Friday Harbor, WA 98250.