Stanislaus County leaders have hired a regional emergency services agency director as the new county fire warden.
Richard Murdock, executive director of Mountain-Valley Emergency Medical Services Agency, was among 13 people who applied for the position overseeing county emergency services, fire service and rescue operations and security.
The county Board of Supervisors gave approval Tuesday to hire Murdock at a starting annual salary of about $135,000. He will begin work for the county March 5 and also will hold the title of assistant director of the Office of Emergency Services.
Dale Skiles was the county fire warden for nearly five years before retiring Dec. 31. County human resources director Tamara Thomas said a fire warden recruitment drew applications from outside the state, as well as from California and the county. A screening determined that 10 candidates had the minimum qualifications and they were chosen for interviews, Thomas said.
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Murdock, 54, has been executive director of Mountain-Valley EMS since 2009. The agency, with an office on Standiford Avenue in Modesto, regulates ground and air ambulance services and emergency medical dispatch in a region including Stanislaus, Calaveras, Mariposa, Amador and Alpine counties. It manages contracts with ambulance services, works to improve fire agency emergency medical response and regulates the stroke and heart-attack receiving centers at hospitals.
Murdock was previously with Sacramento Metro Fire Department for 12 years, serving as a firefighter and paramedic. His 33 years of experience also includes serving as a paramedic for Turlock Ambulance and Riggs Ambulance Service.
“I have been working with Stanislaus County for the past seven to 10 years on the emergency medical side,” Murdock said. “The county has been great at collaboration and coordination of all aspects of emergency management and fire service. They have a great team and I have been wanting to be part of that team for some time.”
Thomas said Murdock demonstrated his skills and abilities throughout the recruitment process. “He is a great fit for our leadership team,” she said.
Fire district seat
County leaders also filled a vacancy Tuesday on the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District board of directors. Gregory Bernardi of Riverbank was appointed to an at-large seat on the district board to complete an unexpired term ending June 30, 2019.
In October, controversy swirled around Stanislaus Consolidated when the shorthanded board terminated Fire Chief Rick Weigele after only five months on the job. Weigele, the third chief to exit the district in two years, had quickly become popular with local officials and residents, who wondered if the district could keep a fire chief.
Deputy Chief Mike Wapnowski has served as acting chief since November.
Bernardi, who attended Modesto Junior College and has lived in Riverbank since 2002, has been an emergency services dispatcher for Alameda County since 1996. He has received multiple commendations from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.
Riverbank and Waterford each appoint a member of the Stanislaus Consolidated board, while the county appoints three members, including one from Empire and two members at-large who are district residents. Board members are paid $100 per meeting.
County Supervisor Kristin Olsen, who represents Oakdale and Riverbank, said she recommended Bernardi because of his emergency services experience.
"His experience is out of the county, so it won’t cause any conflicts," Olsen said in an email. "I also liked that his family has a small business in Riverbank. He is a well rounded and likeable person who will serve our community well."
Ken Carlson: 209-578-2321, @KenCarlson16