Fire district still searching for permanent leader |

Fire district still searching for permanent leader

Matthew Renda
Staff Writer

The Nevada County Consolidated Fire District board of directors met Thursday for the first time in 2013, as it still strives to identify a new fire chief to lead the district.

The problem currently facing the district is that it would like to collaborate with Grass Valley Fire Department and Nevada City Fire Department to identify one permanent chief capable of leading all three districts.

The salary for the prospective chief, if the entities can agree, would be split among the three departments, although the exact percentages of the cost-sharing agreement remain to be ironed out, said Director David Hanson.

Representatives from Consolidated Fire District will meet with representatives from the cities of Grass Valley and Nevada City Jan. 30 to determine whether a cost-sharing agreement is possible.

"I think we are better off together than we are apart," Hanson said, adding an analysis of responses within the county shows all three agencies respond to calls within each other's jurisdiction, requiring more scrutiny of how to share and fund the collective resources.

In the meantime, Consolidated Fire will look at hiring an interim administrative chief capable of formulating a plan for the district moving forward along with tackling some of the pressing financial issues.

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Division Chief David Ray functions as the fire chief but has made it clear that he would prefer to stay on the tactical firefighting side of the equation and leave the administrative and political elements of the job to someone else.

The board is strongly considering hiring Ronny Coleman, a retired California Fire Marshall, to act as a recruiter capable of locating an interim chief and a permanent chief for the district.

"Chief Coleman has an understanding of where we are, and it's not that unusual," said Chairman Keith Grueneberg.

Once under contract, an interim chief could be in place "fairly quickly," Grueneberg said, with a permanent replacement about 180 days out, depending on the two cities and how they respond at the end of January.

Ray said having an interim chief formulate goals and a plan for the district will make it easier for the permanent chief to transition into the job.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email or call 530-477-4239.

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