It's a new era at the Novato Fire District. A new chief is getting situated and a new board president is at the helm. The reset button has been pushed. Hard.
After a rocky transition last week, the fire chief job is stabilizing as the suddenly retired Marc Revere has cleaned out his desk and longtime Marin County Fire Department Chief Ken Massucco takes over on an interim basis. On the district board of directors, Brad Beedle replaces Jim Galli as president. Both moves took effect at Wednesday's board meeting.
"If feel we have a great opportunity to re-energize the talent we have here and focus on the future," Beedle said Thursday. "We are very fortunate to have Chief Mazz to provide very strong leadership and gather the respect of the troops. He has great knowledge of the county as a whole and we're fortunate to have somebody in that position to stay engaged in the community locally as well as countywide. Ken was the best choice for this position."
Revere's departure was shocking because his retirement was not announced prior to a closed-session board meeting about his performance. The board emerged from the meeting saying Revere, the chief for the past six years, had retired during the review and that Massucco, who just retired from Marin County Fire in March, was taking over until a permanent replacement is named.
On Thursday, Beedle said the district is not in position to discuss Revere's departure, which has made waves nationally because he is a respected expert in many fields and had been named national chief of the year in August by one industry organization.
"It's a human resources issue, and out of respect for the people involved, I have to decline to comment," he said. "We realize that might not be what the community wants to hear, but our focus right now is to reassure that we're fiscally responsible and delivering services at a high level."
Massucco said he expects to be with Novato Fire for four or five months. Beedle said the board is considering a reorganization so that selected personnel can focus on administration and would not have to be sworn firefighters. The deputy chief position, recently vacated when Eric Nickel took the top job in Palo Alto, would be reassessed as part of the reorganization process, Beedle said.
"We're looking for ways to improve and be more efficient," he said. "We're not really putting a timetable together on this yet. We will be working with all departments from the bottom up so we get solid feedback. We have people who work hard and are dedicated to their positions, and they have a lot to offer. They know we're all very proud of their efforts."
Beedle is a San Anselmo native and has lived in Novato for 25 years. He's worked in a variety of fields as a paramedic but focuses now on Beedle & Associates, which offers emergency medical services to the movie & TV industries, sporting events and other special events. Many Novato High School sports fans know him from his association with the football and lacrosse teams.
Beedle, who also sells first-aid and safety equipment, has been raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind for more than 20 years and has volunteered as St. Vincent's Dining Kitchen, Ross Valley Fire and Novato Fire. He has served on boards with the Novato Youth Center, Novato Sunrise Rotary, Gilead House and the Novato Parks and Recreation Commission.
"I have always believed that in order to serve the community in any capacity you need to be involved," he said. "I pride myself being involved to better learn about our changing community."
Massucco, a 37-year firefighter, said he always worked very closely with Novato during his stint as Marin County Fire chief and that there is a solid track record of shared services between the two agencies. Novato's annual budget is about $26 million and Marin County Fire's was about $20 million, he said.
"It is a very well-run organization with top-line firefighters and staff," he said. "The equipment is in good condition and the facilities are very good. I think that's because they've done a great job of planning over the years."
Massucco said he's looking forward to working with Beedle and the board even if his tenure is only a few months. Massucco said he remembers when he and Beedle were younger and Beedle's father was chief of the old San Anselmo Fire Department, before it was merged into the modern-day Ross Valley Fire Department.
"We want to invest our time with the troops, so we'll do that and spend some time with them and make sure they have the tools they need to do the job," Massucco said. "I think that's my first job — to reach out and tell them where I'm coming from."