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City Settles With Residents Evicted From Albany…

City Manager Exploring Ways to Address Loss of Fire Chief

Albany City Manager Beth Pollard said Friday she is exploring options for fulfilling the duties of the fire chief. Piedmont this week opted to stop sharing its chief with the city. Pollard said she will report results to the City Council next month.

In the wake of Piedmont's decision this past week to stop sharing a fire chief with Albany, Albany City Manager Beth Pollard said in a statement Friday that she is "exploring the City’s options for fulfilling duties and responsibilities of the Fire Chief."

Pollard plans to report the results of her exploration to the City Council next month, she said.

The two cities had been sharing Fire Chief Edward Tubbs, who plans to retire May 31. The agreement, under which Tubbs worked half time for each city, began in April 2011 and allowed either city to terminate it with 90 days notice.

The Piedmont City Council, following the recommendation of Piedmont City Administrator Geoffrey Grote, voted Monday to discontinue the shared chief. Grote said Piedmont did not have sufficient administrative staff in its fire department to continue with a half-time chief.

Pollard praised Tubbs' "extraordinary" work as Albany's half-time fire chief and said the city "must continually seek ways to provide excellent services at an efficient cost."    

Here is Pollard's full statement:

Facing tight economic times, acknowledging the increasingly sophistication and regionalization of fire and emergency medical services, and recognizing commonalities such as medical transport services, the cities of Albany and Piedmont began a shared Fire Chief arrangement April, 2011. Piedmont’s Fire Chief, Ed Tubbs, served in this role, and split his time between the two cites.

Chief Tubbs has announced his retirement effective May 31. The City of Piedmont has decided it wants to return to a full-time chief and will end the arrangement with the chief’s retirement.

Chief Tubbs did an extraordinary job of managing two fire departments, thereby saving the city money, expanding the Albany chief’s presence with other agencies, and inspiring Albany to pursue other cooperative efforts. He worked very hard to maintain continuous oversight and involvement. His uniform – with a Piedmont patch on one sleeve and an Albany patch on the other – was emblematic of his commitment to both cities. I am very grateful for his dedication to the Albany department, city, and community.

The City of Albany must continually seek ways to provide excellent services at an efficient cost. The Albany City Council deserves credit for leading and supporting city staff looking at innovative ways – including partnerships with other agencies – to stretch tax dollars.

We are fortunate in Albany to have Fire Department employees who are not just open to new ways of operating, but who encourage creativity. I am thankful for the firefighters’ role in making the shared chief arrangement work.

As for the future, I am exploring the City’s options for fulfilling duties and responsibilities of the Fire Chief. I plan to report to the Council in March with the results of that exploration. 

Tatter Salad February 09, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Now if only Beth could post the relative salary's of Albany's 'Finest' and 'Fire Department' in CONTRAST to neighboring cities such as El Cerrito, or similar sized communities such as Piedmont... that sort of transparency would REALLY be appreciated!
R Madamba February 09, 2013 at 08:51 PM
Shouldn't be an issue of significant debate. Primary way to fill this spot is to look for a candidate internally at the department. If that does not produce a chief, then the city and department should post the position that outlines the specific duties and job mandates that are in line with specific needs of Albany Fire and the City. Residents should know how fortunate we are to have our own, well run department. We have avoided a lot of struggle that other places in the county have faced!
Paul O'Curry February 09, 2013 at 10:03 PM
As I have posted earlier.......... We no longer have a Fire Dept safety inspector .. why could we not combine the job of chief with the inspector job.. The key would be to schedule the staff who have a little time on their hands !!
Tatter Salad February 11, 2013 at 12:29 AM
The City of Albany began to be spoiled 40 years ago when Mike Koepke became Fire Chief. His continual pursuit of the best technology and techniques to improve emergency response and fire fighting techniques continue with us today. Fire Chief Tubbs has had very little to do because Koepke's ideology (unrelenting pursuit of excellence) continues as a core behavior in our fire and rescue team, and this is 'with or without' a 'chief' or 'safety inspector' IMHO. I observed a very-bad accident in my rear view mirror while driving down 80W yesterday, while approaching the Central Avenue overpass. I exited the Albany exit, pulled over, and notified the Albany PoPo. Three to four blocks (and a minute) later, I was attempting to merge with traffic going East on Buchanan;while the Albany Meat Wagon and a Fire Truck was already rolling on the other side of the ramp. (According to the news, one person died, three seriously injured). True, I've observed these fire responders walk, -not run, with a hose when a fire is in progress; but only after they are sure there is no one in the house. Similar to our quick reacting (but not as well paid) Police Department: Albany citizens don't realize how lucky we are! See: http://albany.patch.com/articles/memorial-for-former-albany-fire-chief-set-for-saturday
Mike C February 11, 2013 at 04:30 AM
Albany is really too small of a place (geographically and population-wise) for it to be cost-effective to maintain its own fire department. Seems to me that the sensible thing would be for the city to explore entering into a contract with either Berkeley or El Cerrito to have their fire departments (both of which are excellent) provide services in Albany. Kensington already does this with El Cerrito; it's worked out fine and saved unnecessary expenses.
Bernard Knapp February 11, 2013 at 07:15 AM
In light of the consistent anti-developmenf bent of the City Council, it seems inevitable that we will eventually have to admit our city is not economically viable, and annex ourselves to El Cerrito or Berkeley,which both seem to have relatively better governance than the clique-dominated elected and appointed officialdom that has squelched all attempts to bring tax revenue to Albany, while wasting our tax dollars on pointless branding studies and futile focus groups.
sam i am February 13, 2013 at 12:31 AM
Do a salary search on Contra Costa Times to see.....
sam i am February 13, 2013 at 12:33 AM
@ tatter Salad - "True, I've observed these fire responders walk, -not run, with a hose when a fire is in progress; but only after they are sure there is no one in the house" Firefighters don't "run" period. That's a good way to get killed. Your perception of what they (or any other safety personnel) should do - run or walk or anything else is irrelevant. You're not trained as they are so unless they can tell you how to do your job I suggest you keep your piehole closed.
sam i am February 13, 2013 at 12:37 AM
"Albany is really too small of a place (geographically and population-wise) for it to be cost-effective to maintain its own fire department." Mergers have been shown to cost more than current cost for a variety of reasons....... It also creates other problems......

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