After just six months on the job, Modesto Regional Fire Authority chief reportedly asked to resign

etracy@modbee.comJanuary 27, 2014 

Modesto Regional Fire Authority's Randall Bradley is sworn as new chief in in front of those gathered for his swearing in Friday afternoon in downtown Modesto's Tenth Street Place (08-02-13).

ELIAS FUNEZ — The Modesto Bee Buy Photo

— After just six months at the helm of the Modesto Regional Fire Authority, Fire Chief Randall Bradley was told he has until Wednesday to tender his resignation, according to several of his supporters.

Bradley shared the information Friday after he met with board members for his second job performance evaluation this month, according to Tim Tietjen, president of the Modesto City Firefighters Association.

At Jan. 17 and Jan. 24 special meetings, the evaluations were done during closed session.

On behalf of the union, Tietjen spoke in support of Bradley before both closed sessions. At the first meeting, he was accompanied by about 50 firefighters.

Bradley has helped realize savings by identifying resource duplication, has fostered relationships with neighboring departments and conveys to his crews that they are genuinely appreciated, Tietjen said.

“We believe in what he is trying to accomplish,” Tietjen said on behalf of the union’s 125 members. “We are puzzled by them asking him to resign.”

Bradley replaced interim Fire Chief Gary Hinshaw in July after a four-year career as chief of the Moraga-Orinda Fire District in Contra Costa County. He was chief of the Lawrence Livermore Fire Department for six years and deputy chief of the Alameda County Fire Department for two years.

Under his contract with the authority, Bradley earns $157,000 annually plus benefits.

He did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

The authority was formed in 2011 when Modesto, the Stanislaus County fire warden’s office and the Salida Fire District entered into a joint-powers agreement. Its board of directors is composed of one representative from each agency. Salida Fire Protection District board Chairman Tom Burns and Modesto Councilman Dave Lopez would not comment about Bradley’s review or what, if anything, was asked of him. County Supervisor Bill O’Brien did not respond to calls for comment.

“It was a unanimous vote to hire (Bradley), and during my time on the board, there were no disciplinary issues,” said former Modesto Councilwoman Stephanie Burnside. “To hear that he has been asked to resign by Wednesday without any reason or just cause is really suspicious.” Burnside served on the fire board for nearly all of 2013 until Lopez took over in December.

She said Bradley was hired to expand the authority by extending regionalization but was told by the board during a September meeting to discuss the joint-powers agreement with other agencies only if the conversation was initiated by that agency.

Tietjen said collaboration among agencies is the best he’s seen. He said the authority trains with the Ceres Fire Department and Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District, they respond to more calls together, and they have adopted some joint policies and operations for firefighting.

The agencies also are practicing “boundary drops,” meaning the closest available engine company will respond to a call regardless of jurisdiction.

In addition to his policies, Tietjen said Bradley is generally well-respected and well-liked. He said Bradley visited him during his Christmas Day shift. “In the 20 years that I have worked in the Fire Department, never have I had a fire chief show up to my station on Christmas Day with a pumpkin pie in hand and say, ‘I just want to let you know I appreciate what you do.’ 

Bee staff writer Kevin Valine contributed to this report. Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at etracy@modbee.com or (209) 578-2366. Follow her on Twitter @ModestoBeeCrime.

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