Alameda has a new interim fire chief.
Mike D'Orazi, a former Alameda fire captain who retired in 2007, stepped into the new role Monday.
“We’re very happy," said Domenick Weaver, president of the Alameda's Firefighters Association. "D'Orazi has a good knowledge of the fire service, he has an institutional knowledge, and also has the support and buy-in of our membership.”
A fire chief with the backing of the rank and file will be important as city officials wrestle with rising employee pension and health care costs.
D'Orzai replaces Mike Fisher, who has been interim chief since David Kapler left the department's top spot in November. Kapler, who clashed with the union, was photographed filling his private car with city gas and put on administrative leave.
"Chief Fisher stepped in at a difficult time for the fire department and jumped in with both feet and did a great job," said Alameda's acting city manager, Lisa Goldman.
Goldman, who will return to her role as deputy city manager when John Russo becomes city manager on June 13, said the decision to hire D'Orazi was made with the new city manager.
"Russo has a lot of plans that he’s discussed with D'Orazi," Goldman said "They have to do in part with filling the firefighters' hours when they’re not on fire calls and EMT calls."
Goldman said Russo is also looking for a partner in resolving the budget issues related to pensions and health care costs.
According to a statement from the Alameda's Firefighters Association, D’Orazi was first hired as a firefighter with the Alameda Fire Department in 1979 and was promoted to lieutenant in 1988,and then to captain in April, 1999. He served as a training director and an acting divison chief.
Goldman says hiring a retiree saves the city money. "He is a PERS retiree," which means, she says, that he already has the costs of his benefits covered by the city, so it costs the city less to hire him.