Consolidated Fire board appoints interim chief |

Consolidated Fire board appoints interim chief

Photo for The Union John Hart
Jorn Hart | The Union

The Nevada County Consolidated Fire District appointed Jerry Johnson as interim fire chief during its regular meeting Thursday night.

Johnson will once again assume the helm of the district after current Fire Chief Adolf Zubia’s resignation becomes effective Nov. 30. Johnson served as chief for a few months prior to Zubia’s hire.

Johnson, who lives in Nevada and served as an assistant chief in West Covina in Southern California, was hired as an interim chief in May and served at the post until August, when Zubia came on board.

While the board entertained awarding the position of temporary chief to either Jerry Funk or Jim Turner, who serve as Consolidated Fire battalion chiefs, the directors ultimately agreed unanimously to stick with Jerry Johnson for the sake of continuity.

The problems are the same as when he got here, said Director Mark Bass.

Johnson said he is still looking into a bevy of problems and issues facing the district, including a potential lawsuit brought by two firefighters claiming Consolidated Fire mishandled an accident during a training incident.

The drawback to Johnson’s appointment is that due to CalPERS restrictions, he has about 496 hours remaining before he will be forced to step down, some directors noted during discussion.

In the meantime, the Consolidated Fire board will begin searching for Johnson’s eventual replacement, starting with the list that consultant Ron Coleman devised prior to Zubia’s hire.

Coleman was hired for about $28,000 to locate a potential fire chief for the district earlier this year, and with his help, directors whittled the field of candidates to three — Zubia and two others.

One of the finalists has since taken a job elsewhere in California, but Director Dave Hanson said he will attempt to get in touch with the remaining candidate and gauge his interest.

The Consolidated Fire board talked in earnest about forming a countywide fire district, which could potentially entail the consolidation of Penn Valley Fire Protection District, Grass Valley Fire Department, Nevada City Fire Department and other willing participants into one umbrella organization in the interest of reducing overhead.

As such, directors said they should incorporate representatives from other fire districts in the hiring process to make sure they have a “buy in” on the new chief.

During the last round of interviews, representatives from Grass Valley and Nevada City were included in the process.

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

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