Tahoe’s newest interim fire chief ‘extremely honored’ at opportunity
February 24, 2016
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Beginning next month, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Assistant Chief Ryan Sommers will take over for outgoing Chief Mike Brown.
On Feb. 17, the NLTFPD Board of Directors unanimously voted to appoint Sommers as interim chief, effective March 19 and until such time as they deem appropriate.
"I'm extremely honored and look forward to the opportunity," Sommers said. "I've been with the district for 21 years; born and raised in Incline. … I look forward to continuing on Chief Brown's legacy and to continue to do the right things, for the right reasons for the citizens of Incline and Crystal Bay."
This appointment comes after Brown recently announced his retirement after working with NLTFPD for the past 26 years and serving as fire chief since 2007. His last day will be March 18.
"I think (Sommers) will be excellent," Brown said. "We've always looked at what we can do to promote within, and I got to say, when you look at the characteristics of the different individuals that have grown up in this industry, Ryan has always been a leader. He's always been one of our go-to individuals from the firefighter ranks all the way up to now the assistant chief ranks."
'ALWAYS ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT'
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Throughout his NLTFPD career, Sommers has held various roles, including firefighter, engine captain and battalion chief.
When asked of his plans as interim chief, Sommers said: "(To) continue Chief Brown's legacy … and to implement some change for the good of the district and the employees. Meanwhile, still responding and taking care of the citizens of Incline and Crystal Bay.
"… There's always room for improvement, and I'll be auditing and evaluating that and seeing where we can improve."
Sommers' appointment includes a six-month review by the board of directors to be conducted on or around Sept. 19 and not held in public.
The board last week also approved a 5 percent salary increase for Sommers, effective March 19.
Sommers' current annual salary is $139,320, said Sharon Cary, the fire district's business manager. The increase will raise that to $146,286.
In comparison, Brown's annual salary is $180,590, Cary said.
WHAT LIES AHEAD
Also last week, the board directed staff to prepare a report for the March 16 meeting about possible recruitment of a new permanent chief.
Information sought includes estimated costs to do recruitment (advertising, staff time, etc.) and possible funding sources to do a formal recruitment if desired.
When asked if he would be interested in taking on the NLTFPD fire chief role permanently, Sommers said he would.
"As board chair, it is my desire to be methodical, practical and considerate of the process as it unfolds on an undetermined timeline," added Susan Herron, in a follow-up interview.
She added: "The NLTFPD board of directors, at its meeting, put no time limits on their appointment …. (it) shows the level of confidence we have with our interim fire chief."
Visit nltfpd.net to learn more about the NLTFPD.