Search on for new fire chief

Salary could be less than incumbent's $208,033
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
-A +A
Whether or not Rocklin?s interim fire chief James Summers will get the top job is unknown at this point. It?s also unclear what salary the city will offer Fire Chief Bill Mikesell?s replacement. Mikesell retired July 13 after 40 years as a firefighter, 12 as Rocklin?s Fire Chief. Summers, who has worked at the city?s fire department for 26 years (12 as a Battalion Chief), said he?s happy to temporarily fill the chief?s position even if City Manager Rick Horst ultimately hires someone else. ?It has always been goal of mine ever since I got into the fire service to be a fire chief. I grew up next to a fire station,? Summers said. In a June 28 interview with the Placer Herald, outgoing Chief Bill Mikesell explained that Horst is well into the hiring process. ?Horst did a thorough investigation. He interviewed a lot of people. This is a very comprehensive thing,? Mikesell said. As interim chief, Summers will receive a raise from the battalion chief?s base salary of $116,000 to compensate for the management of three fire stations and 40 personnel. ?The interim salary is expected to be in the $145,000 to $150,000 range,? Horst said. ?(Summers) moves to a management position with a set salary. He will not be eligible for overtime as an exempt employee.? According to Horst, Mikesell had a base salary of $208,033, but whoever takes over will not be getting that much. The job posting reads in part; ?salary is expected to be less than the incumbent?s.? According to the City of Roseville, the fire chief?s base salary is $180,000. That job requires oversight of 8 stations, a training facility and 105 personnel. The Placer Herald also reviewed the salaries of fire chiefs in similar size departments. The Davis Fire Chief manages 3 fire stations and 49 personnel with a base salary range of $118,000 to $144,000. In Woodland the fire chief manages 3 fire stations and 46 employees with a base salary range of $120,000 to $154,000. Rocklin?s new chief will be expected to have five years of fire service experience at a command level as well as a Bachelor?s degree in Fire Service, Public or Business Administration or related field with a Master?s degree preferred. The new fire chief will be expected to ?lead by example, be a strong mentor, maintain a high level of professional standards, and promote morale within the Department,? according to the position announcement. Besides public safety, the next fire chief will be expected to negotiate the development of a regional training center and fire administration facility as well as a fire station at Sierra College. Summers said that facility could help improve critical response times. ?Some of our response times are longer than we like,? Summers said. ?We?re fortunate that a lot of the homes outside of the five- minute response time are sprinklered. That continues to be a concern.? According to the city, the chief would also be expected to negotiate for additional firefighter/paramedics at each station, something Summers said he?s committed to make happen. ?That?s a higher level of service we?re going to provide to the community,? Summers said. ?We have to continue to look at staffing - hire more people.? The chief will also be expected to restart the fire apprentice program, strengthen volunteer opportunities and negotiate joint regional services, such as a dispatch center and/or training. Horst declined to state when the position would be filled. ?The position will remain open until filled. I have not set a specific date for the position to close or for the position to be filled. It is my desire to obtain a good pool of qualified candidates,? Horst said. Last year, Horst promoted Police Captain Ron Lawrence to Chief of Police just one day after Mark Siemens retired as Rocklin?s top cop. Horst made it clear at that time he wasn?t looking outside of the department. This time he has a different plan. ?The position has been posted to both internal and external candidates,? Horst said. The next chief will be given a take home Chevy Suburban, an annual cell phone allowance, and tens of thousands of dollars toward a California Public Employee Retirement System pension, deferred compensation and health benefits. ________ Fire Chiefs with three-station departments Rocklin: 40 employees; $208,033 base salary Davis: 49 employees; $118,000 to $144,000 Woodland: 46 employees; $120,000 to $154,000 Source: Rocklin/Davis/ Woodland