East Fork Fire announces personnel changes
The East Fork Fire Protection District announced several new appointments and promotions stemming from retirements, resignations, reinstatement of a position, and the collateral impacts for several East Fork employees moving up the ladder.
New Deputy Chief Jeff Veliquette was selected from a pool of 12 applicants and will manage the Operations Division. Veliquette comes from the Novato Fire Protection District, where he retired in March 2020 after a 30-year career. He has an extensive background in fire and Emergency Medical Services operations as well as a strong background in wildland fire response and incident management.
Chief Tod Carlini said he was very pleased with the recruitment process. Veliquette started his new position on Dec. 1. Joining Veliquette in the rank of deputy chief will be 17-year East Fork veteran and former Battalion Chief Larry Goss. Goss will lead the District’s Training and Safety Division. Goss was promoted into the position after the District Board’s authorization. The District had combined the responsibilities of both Operations and Training into one position, formerly held by Dave Fogerson. Carlini said Fogerson did a good job managing both responsibilities, the coronavirus pandemic, which he mostly managed in Douglas County, placed a significant strain on both functions administratively.
With the number of new personnel in the district and a resurgent of a retooled volunteer program, designated management of training and safety warranted the change.
“Deputy Chief Goss has some great ideas to move the District’s training program forward and under a more strategic direction for the future,” Carlini said. “We have lost such a large amount of our organizational experience with retirements over the last couple of years. We hope that we will be able to replace some of the experience voids with new training opportunities at all levels.”
The District promoted captains John Brawley and Matt Kruse to the rank of battalion chief. One position created with the retirement of Battalion Chief Scott Fraser and the other with Goss’s promotion. Fraser retired in mid-December with 20 years of career service and five years as a volunteer. Newly elected Board Member John Bellona said he was the Volunteer Chief for the Ranchos VFD when Fraser started as a volunteer.
“Scott was one fantastic incident commander,” Carlini said. “I learned something from him every time we worked an incident together.” Carlini, Fraser, and Goss all worked together to manage the 2014 Bison Fire, Douglas County’s largest wildland fire.
Both Brawley and Kruse each have 20 years of experience with the District and both also starting as volunteers. Battalion Chief Brawley will be leading “C” Shift, while Kruse will be in charge of “B” Shift.
“Both are going to be fine chief fire officers. They are both excited about their opportunity to lead at a higher level.” Carlini said. They will be joining another long-time employee, Troy Valenzuela, who is the “A” Shift Battalion Chief. Each battalion chief oversees four fire captains each shift, who in turn manage the engineers and firefighters assigned to a particular station.
Also promoted were Capts. Steven Koontz and Kevin Repan. Both were promoted in a small in-station promotional ceremony on Dec. 28.
Current Capt. Jamie Buck has been appointed to the position of training and safety captain, a position opportunity created by Brawley’s promotion to battalion chief.
Rounding out the promotions, Firefighter-Paramedic Aaron Ghysels will be promoted to engineer in couple of weeks due to the position being vacated by Repan.
Carlini said four new firefighter-paramedics are working to complete the Regional Fire Academy in Carson City. The District will soon be conducting an additional recruitment for firefighter-paramedics as a priority and to fill current and future open positions.