Ohashi retiring after 15 years as Puget Sound Fire public information officer

Worked 30 years for Kent department

Kyle Ohashi has appeared regularly on local news channels, websites and in newspapers as the public information officer (PIO) for the Kent-based Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority for the last 15 years.

But those days of informing the public about fires and fire safety will come to a halt the end of June when Ohashi retires after 30 years with the department.

“I’ll miss 2 a.m. phone calls, blinding camera lights and answering the same question eight different times,” Ohashi said in an email about his retirement to media members and to thank them for making his PIO job “easy and enjoyable.”

Joe Root, who has been with Puget Sound Fire for more than 28 years, will replace Ohashi.

“I’m retiring to Gig Harbor and Rancho Mirage (California), traveling and sleeping in,” Ohashi said in an email to the Kent Reporter. “That’s all I have planned so far.”

Ohashi joined the then-Kent Fire Department in 1990 after working several years as a restaurant manager. An incident he witnessed at an airport hotel lounge caused him to become a firefighter, according to a Kent Reporter city profile story.

Ohashi went to the club to hear a band he knew through his restaurant job. He and the rest of the crowd had to clear out after a man suffered a heart attack. He saw another man administer CPR to the man right after the incident. He found out the next day from a friend in the band that the fire department had shown up and revived the man.

“I thought that was very cool to have that great of an outcome,” Ohashi said in the article.

A short while later, Ohashi heard about openings in the Kent and Renton fire departments. He applied and Kent hired him in 1990.

“I wanted something where I could work with people and the public and where I could have more of a career opportunity,” said Ohashi, who majored in business at Western Washington University in Bellingham after he graduated from Kentridge High School.

In addition to working with the media by handling phone calls and emails and writing press releases about fires, Ohashi worked to help inform schools, businesses and homeowners about fire safety.

“It’s time to move on.” Ohashi said about retiring. “The department is improving and changing the position, so having someone new is ideal.”

Root starts new job

Root, meanwhile, has served as a firefighter, engineer, engine company officer, hazardous materials response team captain and was most recently serving as a code enforcement officer, according to a news release from Puget Sound Fire.

He brings a wide range of experience that will be invaluable while representing the department, according to the release.