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Press Release - Interim Fire Chief Tony Gossner

PRESS RELEASE

Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District (District) of Sonoma County is pleased to announce that Chief Tony Gossner, retired from the City of Santa Rosa Fire Department, has agreed to serve as the District’s interim Chief starting January 1, 2022.  The District passed a resolution at the December 15th District Board meeting confirming his appointment.  The District Board and staff are pleased to have someone of Chief Gossner’s experience and expertise to assist the District as interim Chief during 2022. 

The opportunity to hire Chief Gossner came about because of the sudden departure of the District’s previous Chief, Leonard Thompson, from the City of Petaluma.  As the City of Petaluma shared Chief Thompson with the District, his leaving the City left the District without a Chief.    The District has severed its agreement with Petaluma regarding the sharing of a Chief as the City is also going through a period with an interim fire chief. 

Chief Thompson, while Chief of both agencies, was able to drop response borders between the two allowing for seamless response when an agency’s personnel were occupied with existing calls or during the need to respond to calls requiring multiple agencies.   Staff training and command staff meetings were also combined to the benefit of both agencies.   A majority of these actions will continue in the immediate future as they served the community and agencies effectively.  The communities served by the District will not see any significant change to the response within the District. 

The District has started and will proceed with its plans to develop paramedic engine staffing to improve medical response capabilities within the District, albeit slowly due to the huge demand for, and cost, of such personnel.  The District is financially secure thanks to foresightedness of the public in passing a parcel tax four years ago and due to the fiscal responsibility of the board and staff.    The fiscal responsibility is demonstrated, in part, by operating with a part-time chief due to the operations’ skills of our battalion chiefs and the support from our administrative manager.  We are slowly raising staff salaries to better compete with adjoining agencies for personnel, are able to purchase necessary equipment based upon scheduled replacement, and have stabilized pension payments for the next 20 years and beyond through a pension obligation bond saving the District more than $2.7M over 20 years.   

The District has initiated a series of planning sessions to determine whether future partners are a benefit to the community and District staff, or whether an independent District requiring a full-time chief best serves the needs of the community.  We see Chief Gossner’s interim appointment as a key to that planning due to his experience with fire service in Sonoma County.  We hope to conclude the initial phase of this planning in early summer and move on to a phase of implementation.