WatchSonoma Watch

Santa Rosa picks interim fire chief for permanant job

Mark McCormick


Mark McCormick, Santa Rosa’s interim fire chief for the past eight months, has been appointed chief.

The 20-year veteran of the department has filled in since Bruce Varner retired in January.

“This appointment is truly an honor and I am committed to making sure our department provides an excellent quality of service to the citizens of Santa Rosa,” McCormick said in a release.

His appointment as chief took effect Thursday.

He was hired in 1991 as a fire inspector and has moved through the department’s ranks, from firefighter to captain, deputy chief/fire marshal and interim chief. He had prior fire fighting and hazardous materials management experience in California and Washington.

City Manager Kathy Millison praised McCormick for the leadership has he has shown during the transition and said he brings fresh ideas to the 135-person department.

His salary will be $189,000 annually, Millison said, an increase of $9,200, or 5 percent. He also will receive an annual car allowance of $4,200. Beginning in January, he will begin paying an additional 2 percent of his salary toward his retirement, for a total of 11 percent. He will also take 48 hours of unpaid furlough, equal to $4,328, Human Resources Director Fran Elm said.

McCormick, 51, lives in Larkfield. An official badge ceremony will be held before the City Council for McCormick and his family at a later date.

It is the first time since 1972 the city has promoted someone from within to the rank of fire chief, McCormick said. Michael Turnick was named chief in 1972, where he stayed until his retirement in 1985.

6 Responses to “Santa Rosa picks interim fire chief for permanant job”

  1. Money Grubber says:


    I also was wondering just exactly when kind of huge public pension the man will be drawing in the not too distant future.

    No doubt his retirement pension will exceed the actual working wages of most California workers and probably by about twice or three times since the average CA worker earns about $60,000 a year.

  2. Where there's smoke says:

    Let’s see if this is another musical chairs game of bump up the pension pay just prior to retirement that I have known others to take advantage of.
    Can’t blame them, it’s a big carrot and perfectly legal.
    We’ll see in a couple of years.

    It would be interesting to see how many chiefs each California district has had over the past 20 years or so.

    Too many chiefs and not enough revenue?

  3. Dante says:

    Scott P. Neither one of those two listed work for the City of Santa Rosa. The list that pulls up for Santa Rosa’s top earners is actually Fremont.

  4. Scott P says:

    So he’s replacing a guy that made $225,251 BASE SALARY in 2008. Add in medical, dental, vacation and a guaranteed retirement where these guys contribute ZERO and he’s making well over $275,000 per year.

    Public employees are the new rich of society. This places him in the top 1-3% of all wage earners in the US. For a fireman.

    Perhaps the new chief will help us understand how one of his own can negotiate a union contract that permits him to make $88,000 in OVERTIME.

    I recall the days when public service implied some sort of financial sacrifice to serve the greater good. The pay of these people is outrageous.

    5 Martin, Bruce K Fire Chief Fire-Fire Admin $0 $225,251 Details

    4 Pelley, Michael Fire Captain Fire-Operations Staffing $88,454 $227,606 Details

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2009/02/03/santarosapay2008.DTL#ixzz1WkyXvOBE

  5. good one says:

    How wonderful to see one of our own promoted! Good luck to Chief McCormick!

  6. Brown Act Jack says:

    No doubt about it I guess. After all the man has been working on the job for 20 years and I am sure he is full of new ideas he learned on the job and is willing to try out now that he is the chief.

    Funny though how nothing seems to change very much when the future arrives, as it always does.