Election 2010: Interview with Truckee Fire board incumbent Ben Malone | SierraSun.com

Election 2010: Interview with Truckee Fire board incumbent Ben Malone

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; The Truckee Fire Protection District Board of Directors has been getting a lot of attention over the last few months, and looking to the November election, a handful of new candidates too.

Two of the three incumbents and#8212; Ben Malone and Joseph Straub and#8212; are filed and in the race, banking on their experience and knowledge of the district’s issues.

The two were on different sides of the vote to not renew Chief Bryce Keller’s contract and to put him on administrative leave; Malone voting for, and Straub having the single vote against.

Both agree that one of the issues of recent controversy and#8212; an exclusive operating area for Truckee’s ambulances and#8212; is still of key importance to the district’s future.

Below is a recap of an interview with Malone.

Malone is coming to the end of his first term on the fire board, but he was a volunteer firefighter for about eight years with the district, he said.

After a few years away, he heard about an opening, and decided to run.

and#8220;I know the people and I know the issues, so I decided to see if I could get involved to help,and#8221; Malone said.

In the last four years, Malone and the rest of the board saw the economy slide, so he said his priority was keeping the district financially stable.

and#8220;What we did was not real popular but very necessary with the firefighter assessment and bringing the mitigation schedule up to date and#8212; it hadn’t been changed in 11 years,and#8221; Malone said. and#8220;I believe that Truckee Fire is a phenomenal group of people and I wanted to maintain that level.and#8221;

While he said he couldn’t discuss some details of the recent controversies surrounding the ambulance issue and the chief, he said the exclusive operating area will continue to be important in the next term.

and#8220;I believe the exclusive operating area is extremely important because it’s not just about Squaw Valley, it’s about the entire fire district,and#8221; Malone said. and#8220;As I’m learning more it seems to me there may be an option that would allow everybody to be happy.and#8221;

Looking toward the hiring of a new chief, Malone said traditionally the outgoing chief has some say, but that option doesn’t exist this time.

and#8220;I’ve been offered support from all the chiefs in the area and#8212; they approached me and said they’d be more than happy to help us out with that selection,and#8221; Malone said.

He said he would look for a chief who is financially responsible and can understand the issues of a fire district of Truckee’s size, and thus able to understand and avoid those issues before they become problems.

and#8220;I’d also look for someone to work with and relate to the employees; I think morale is important for our personnel,and#8221; Malone said.

Moving away from the recent controversy, Malone said the district and board have made strides toward open dialogue and transparency, but said there is always room for improvement. He said dialogue is already becoming more positive with other fire districts.

and#8220;I think my strongest quality is my three-and-a-half years experience, being involved in the issues,and#8221; Malone said. and#8220;I want what’s best for the whole district, and I feel very lucky to be able to be involved, both as an employee and a board member, in the fire district.and#8221;