Santa Rosa officials announced Monday that Tony Gossner will serve as interim fire chief when Chief Mark McCormick retires next week.

Gossner, 45, has worked for the department since 1990, serving as deputy chief since 2011. Before that he served for about a year as the division chief for safety and training.

City Manager Kathy Millison issued a written statement calling Gossner a "capable leader" who "possesses full knowledge of all department operations."

She also said he has built strong working relationships with other fire and emergency services agencies in the region, and is dedicated to the department's mission.

McCormick called Gossner a "very level-headed, common-sense" leader who cares deeply about the department.

"I have a lot of good things to say about Tony," McCormick said. "He's got a long list of contributions to the city and to the department."

Gossner started his career with Cal Fire and worked in Mill Valley for two years before coming to Santa Rosa. A married father of two, Gossner said said he is thrilled by the opportunity. "I'm very excited. I'm honored and humbled to lead the organization through the next transition," he said.

Three of the city's top officials announced departures around the end of the year. Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm retired Dec. 20 while McCormick follows suit Dec. 28 and Chief Financial Officer Laurence Chiu leaves Jan. 3 for a similar role in Daly City.

Millison said she expects the recruitment process for the permanent fire chief position to begin in mid-January.

McCormick predicted that there will be no shortage of qualified applicants. "I think Santa Rosa is a really great community and we'll have some really great candidates internally and externally," he said.

The next chief will face several challenges, McCormick said. They include securing funding to retain full staffing at all fire stations, constructing a new fire house in Fountaingrove and further exploring a shared services agreement with the Rincon Valley Fire Protection District, he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or On Twitter @citybeater.