Fire Chief James R. Bixler is a native Washingtonian, born in Bremerton, WA. On his 16th birthday, he joined Kitsap County Fire District #8 as a volunteer. In 1973, he was hired full time with Mason County Fire District #5 in Allyn, Washington. Two years later, he moved to Vancouver, WA, where he worked as an EMT and volunteered for the Battle Ground Fire Department.
In 1980, Chief Bixler was hired at Clarke County Fire District #3, where he also qualified as Firefighter 1, Firefighter 2, Fire Instructor 1, Instructor 2, Fire Officer 1 and Officer 2. He received certification as a Dive Rescue Specialist and Advanced Dive Rescue Specialist. While there he also attended extensive wildland firefighting classes and was Red Card certified for wildland firefighting. He obtained several certifications for the Incident Command System (ICS) and Hazardous Materials response.
In 1999, he was hired as the Fire Chief on McNeil Island where he was tasked with rebuilding the fire department, training 14 inmates as firefighters, and responding to the fire and medical needs of the island. In 2001, Chief Bixler was approached by the Board of Fire Commissioners here on Anderson Island who inquired whether he would be interested in serving with Anderson Island Fire and Rescue. After an extensive interview process, the position of Fire Chief was offered, and he accepted.