The following article was acquired from the Marin Independent Journal website and was written by Lorenzo Morotti.
Mill Valley, Southern Marin to share fire chiefs
Southern Marin Fire Protection District will share fire chiefs with Mill Valley as part of a two-year pilot agreement.
Tom Welch, Mill Valley fire chief, will assume the role of deputy chief of operations and training, while Southern Marin Fire Chief Chris Tubbs will retain the fire chief position, Mill Valley Mayor Jim Wickham said.
“It’s not a full merger,” Wickham said. “But it will provide for better collaboration.”
The agreement divides responsibilities between Welch and Tubbs to reduces redundancies in their duties.
The arrangement allows firefighters, engineers and captains in Mill Valley and the fire district to work together seamlessly, respond to emergencies more efficiently and learn from each other, Welch said.
“This is a great opportunity for our firefighters to cross-pollinate a bit and challenge themselves in different areas,” he said. “And it’s a great opportunity for command staff to work as a team to lead both organizations into the future.”
He said the agreement builds off sharing battalion chiefs with the fire district. The shared battalion chief agreement has saved the city and the district about $300,000 each annually.
Marin Professional Firefighters Association President John Bagala said while these types of mergers have occurred in cities and towns across Marin, merging upper management is unusual because neither chief has announced their retirement.
“A lot of places where a merger takes place a chief position is done away with,” Bagala said. “This is the first to try to maintain all chief positions while doing a merger.”
Mill Valley contracted Citygate Associates, a consulting firm focused on fire and emergency services, to review potential opportunities in the shared management agreement. In the staff report, Citygate recommended if the pilot is successful after five quarters the agencies should work to create a permanent single employer framework.