Interim Fire Chief Tony Gossner has been selected as the next chief of the Santa Rosa Fire Department.
City Manager Kathy Millison appointed the 46-year-old veteran firefighter to lead the 145-person department on a permanent basis. Gossner has served as interim chief since the December 2013 retirement of Chief Mark McCormick.
The married father of two said he was “humbled and honored” and called it “a dream come true” to be given the chance to lead a department with such committed employees.
“We have a group of people that have passion and want to provide the best service possible, so that part makes my job easy,” Gossner said.
Gossner has been in the fire service for 26 years, starting his career with Cal Fire . After working as a firefighter in Mill Valley, he was hired by Santa Rosa in 1990.
He’s risen steadily through the ranks from firefighter to captain to division chief of training and safety and, most recently, deputy fire chief of operations and fire marshal. Now he takes the helm of a department with a $33 million budget and plenty of challenges ahead.
“There are a lot of big things coming up,” Gossner said.
These include the decision about whether to take over fire services for the Rincon Valley Fire Protection District, which virtually surrounds the city.
Another involves replacing a federal emergency response grant that has prevented the part-time closure of fire stations. The expiration of the SAFER grant will leave about a $1 million budget gap next year unless additional grants or funding sources are identified, he said.
“Nobody wants to brown-out a fire station, but if the money isn’t there, it’s a last resort,” Gossner said.
The department also is in the process of reorganizing the fire prevention bureau, and it needs to prepare for several anticipated retirements, he said.
The rank-and-file think he’s up to the task.
Firefighters supported Gossner’s getting the interim post and are “really excited” to see him selected as chief, said Tim Aboudara, president of the Santa Rosa Firefighters Local 1401 union.
“What I appreciate most about Tony is that when you ask him a question, you know that you’re going to get an honest answer,” Aboudara said.
City manager Millison said Gossner, facing significant department turnover, has worked hard to recruit new personnel.
“His approach to community engagement, his knowledge of fire command and his commitment to team-building in the department will serve the city and the department well,” she said in a statement.
Gossner will make a salary of $190,384 per year. Including benefits, it works out to a total compensation of about $308,000, according to the city.
You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @citybeater.
Carrie Fisher's Hollywood Life and Times
With a big personality, a history of addiction and a long, varied show business career, here's a taste of Carrie Fisher's Hollywood life and times:
HOLLYWOOD ROYALTY: Her mom is Debbie Reynolds and her dad the late crooner Eddie Fisher. They divorced when she was 2 after her dad decamped to marry Elizabeth Taylor. Suffering from mental illness, and drug and alcohol addiction during much of her life, Fisher became an outspoken advocate for those issues.
STAR WARS: Who can forget that cinnamon-bun hairdo as Princess Leia in the original trilogy, from 1977 to 1983. She later reprised the role, including a turn in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" last year.
SHAMPOO: Before Star Wars was "Shampoo" of 1975, starring Warren Beatty as a Beverly Hills hairdresser. She was Lorna Karpf and her mom reportedly wasn't thrilled about the character's use of profanity.
POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE: This 1990 film directed by Mike Nichols was based on a screenplay she wrote, which was based on her 1987 semi-autobiographical novel of the same title. Meryl Streep starred as movie actress Suzanne Vale, looking to rebuild her life after a drug overdose.
WISHFUL DRINKING: It's the title of her one-woman stage show and autobiography. A version of the stage production hit HBO in 2010. She followed up this year with a memoir, "The Princess Diarist," based on diaries she kept while filming the original Star Wars trilogy.
— Leanne Italie, AP