The Nevada County Consolidated Fire District Board of Directors voted unanimously Tuesday night to spend $28,000 on a firefighting consulting firm to conduct an operational audit, find a new fire chief and formulate a transition plan.
FireForce One, a Elk Grove-based consulting business owned by 72-year-old Ron Coleman — a former California Fire Marshall — will attempt to locate a permanent replacement for former Chief Tim Fike within 120 days.
“I will provide an effective candidate that has the skill set and background to cope with the issues (identified through an operational audit),” Coleman told the seven-person board during a special meeting.
Coleman said he will further perform a comprehensive analysis of the fire district that has been beset by turmoil for the past two years due to constricting revenue and contentious relationships between management and the rank and file.
“We will find out what is going on in this organization from performance to activities, process, financials,” Coleman said. “We are not talking about solutions, but we are talking about a road map.”
Generation of that road map is crucial to identifying the characteristics and skill set desired in a potential candidate for the district, Coleman said.
Coleman would not rule out talking to former Chief Tim Fike on his fact-finding mission, saying he is interested in “facts not personalities.”
Fike abruptly departed Consolidated Fire in June after engaging in a physical altercation with one of his employees in March.
The district will forgo the hiring of an interim chief, a tactic previously discussed, as Coleman said finding a person to fill in on a part-time basis would detract from the search for a permanent chief.
“Sometimes it’s more difficult to find an interim chief due to (CalPERS),” Coleman said. “Finding a permanent chief within 120 days is more expeditious and the organization does not need to keep starting and stopping.”
The need for a permanent chief became more pressing as Division Chief David Ray, who has essentially been functioning as the fire chief for Consolidated Fire since June, announced during the special meeting that he will retire in May.
“I thought I should let you know as I don’t want the organization to get behind the eight-ball,” Ray said during the meeting.
Ray has made it abundantly clear that he prefers the operational side of firefighting and to leave the administrative and political elements of the job to someone else.
Director Mark Bass said Ray should be given help in the near future.
“When the history of the last two years of this district is written, you will see a lot of overachievers,” Bass said. “But sometimes crumbs fell through the cracks and those crumbs added up to something large.”
Coleman said he would support Ray through the intermediate period.
“You can consider me staff,” he told the board.
Coleman will identify five to seven candidates for the board to interview. While a formal contract will not be signed for another two weeks, Coleman will begin work immediately, he said.
For a story on Consolidated Fire’s attempt to establish an agreement between the district and the fire departments of Nevada City and Grass Valley stay tuned to www.TheUnion.com and read Thursday’s print edition.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.