Modesto Regional Fire Authority board to discuss fire chief behind closed doors

kvaline@modbee.comFebruary 4, 2014 

The Modesto Regional Fire Authority board of directors will meet today for the fourth time in three months to discuss embattled Fire Chief Randall Bradley, whose supporters say has been asked by the board to resign.

But unlike previous meetings in which board members discussed Bradley’s job performance, they also are scheduled today to discuss the potential for Bradley to sue MRFA based on potential claims asserted by his legal counsel. Board members also may consider the potential discipline, dismissal or release of a public employee. The meeting agenda does not name the employee.

As in the previous meetings, board members will meet in closed session to discuss Bradley. But they will listen to comments from the public before going into closed session.

Bradley, 51, has been fire chief since July. He is paid $157,000 annually. News that his job may be in jeopardy began to surface in January. Over the past two weeks, he has not returned phone calls and emails seeking comment.

But his supporters have said Bradley helped MRFA save money by eliminating duplication, fostered relationships with neighboring fire agencies and let his fire crews know they are appreciated.

Modesto City FireFighters Association President Tim Tietjen has voiced the union’s support for Bradley during public comment at the two January meetings in which MRFA board members discussed the chief. The MRFA board also met in closed session in November regarding Bradley.

MRFA board members have declined to comment, saying they cannot because it’s a personnel matter.

MRFA was formed in 2011 when Modesto, the Stanislaus County fire warden’s office and the Salida Fire Protection District entered into a joint-powers agreement. Its board of directors is composed of one representative from each agency.

The MRFA board members are Modesto Councilman Dave Lopez, county Supervisor Bill O’Brien and Salida board member Mark Brubaker, who recently replaced Tom Burns, who said he no longer had the time to serve because of increased responsibilities with his work.

MRFA has a $31.9 million budget and about 160 employees, according to its finance department. Modesto provides $24.5 million of the fire agency’s funding.

There has been talk about how long MRFA will last.

Burns said last week that the Salida Fire Protection District is formulating plans in the event MRFA dissolves. Lopez said last week that he expects the Modesto City Council soon will discuss MRFA and how well the fire authority has worked for the city and its residents. Lopez said one concern for the city is that it provides most of MRFA’s resources but has only one of the three votes on the fire authority board.

Today’s MRFA board meeting is set for 1:30 p.m. in the basement chambers of 10th Street Place, 1010 10th St.

Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at kvaline@modbee.com or (209) 578-2316.

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