Colorful ceremonies salute Fire Chief Cody as he retires

Search begins for new chief as Cody wraps up 32-year career

Fire Chief Bill Cody, who has been at the helm of the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department for the last 4-1/2 years, retired Friday with a brigade of firefighters in full-dress uniforms saluting him as he left the department's headquarters in Pleasanton for the last time.

Mayors Jennifer Hosterman of Pleasanton and Marshall Kamena of Livermore led the festivities, with representatives from Alameda County and the state legislature presenting Cody with resolutions, certificates and letters of commendation.

Cody's retirement capped a 32-year career in fire services that began in Southern California with the Los Angeles City Fire Department, where he started as a firefighter and moved up the ranks during his 25-year tenure with that agency. He then joined the Newark Fire Department, where he served as assistant fire chief before joining the LPFD in 2005 as chief.

Livermore and Pleasanton officials praised Cody for his operational expertise and for spearheading the development of the XAL Regional Academy. Working together with the leadership of fire agencies that serve the unincorporated areas of Alameda County and Fremont, the academy was established to train new recruits. Today it serves as a model of regional collaboration and capitalizes on assembling the instructors and resources from all three agencies.

In addition, Cody has served on the board of directors for the East Bay Regional Communications System Authority (EBRCSA), which is charged with developing a state-of-the-art communications system to serve the public safety agencies of the East Bay for many years to come.

Because the fire department is operated under a joint agreement by Pleasanton and Livermore, the city managers of both cities--Nelson Fialho and Linda Barton—are the assigned city executives to develop a replacement plan and hire a search firm for Cody's successor. Fialho said the process could take until March or April before candidates are selected for interviews and a final decision is made.

Cody said that the opportunity to serve as fire chief in an organization that reports to two cities presented unique challenges and also the chance to be involved in city and civic activities in both communities.

"When I was part of the 3,500-member Los Angeles Fire Department, even though I was among the top 100 in the organization, I always felt very much anonymous," Cody told the 75 well-wishers gathered at his retirement ceremony, outside the fire department's headquarters on Nevada Street. "When I came here, I found that I could be very much involved in day-to-day activities in communities and an organization with really great people."

Looking out on the rows of firefighters at the ceremony, Cody said he had either hired or promoted half of those now serving the fire department.

"That shows how much change has taken place in the 4-1/2 years," Cody said. "This is a fire department with excellent people, one that is moving in a great direction and one that I'm confident will continue to grow and develop."

With his wife Sherrill at his side, Cody then walked past the long line of fellow firefighters to head back to his home in Livermore, and retirement.

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Like this comment
Posted by Chris
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 19, 2009 at 8:15 am

The article is missing one piece of information that leaves the me wondering after reading the above. The current Chief retired this weekend and his successor won't be chosen until next Spring who will be manning the LPFD ship in the meantime?

Like this comment
Posted by P-town dad
a resident of Amador Estates
on Oct 19, 2009 at 8:40 am

Deputy Chief Jeff Zolfarelli, a long-time Pleasantonian, has many more years experience with LPFD than Cody did, and I am confident with the ship in his hands.

Like this comment
Posted by Scott Walsh
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Oct 19, 2009 at 9:06 am

Zolfarelli is no where near experienced enough nor would/will the troops follow him. They should go out in an executive search. LPFD is unusual in that it serves two cities, two city managers, two councils. We need a top notch guy or gal of which none exist at the moment. That is not true. There are some great people, just not experienced enough in all that a Fire Chief needs to be. The applicant must have top notch communication skills, be proactive, organized and actually Be a Leader. This is an award-winning department and deserves to have a leader that will take it to the next level. I believe it has been asleep the past 4 or so years since Chief Gary left. It has outstanding firefighters who beg to move forward. Hopefully the City Managers will find an experienced great Fire Chief. Otherwise the department continues to degrade......looks good to the public on the outside but rots on the inside. By the way Sabina Imrie who suddenly retired from the LPFD a month or so ago, has now surfaced in Berkeley Fire Department an Asst. Chief of EMS. We lost a good EMS person and that's sad.

Like this comment
Posted by Qwerty
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2009 at 10:22 am

I think Cody would look cool with a giant handlebar moustache.

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Oct 19, 2009 at 7:22 pm

What exactly do you mean by "a leader that will take it to the next level" ? What is the next level? "Asleep for the past 4 years"? People need sleep to avoid being sleepy! duh... And, "the department continues to degrade"? It all seems to mean something but I have no clear idea what it means? PLEASE EXPLAIN.

How is it that you seem to have insider information?

Like this comment
Posted by Insider Info
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Oct 20, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Cholo ... you have no clear idea what the poster means? It appears to be very clear to those who are "in the know" and you should know that Scott Walsh is a retired LPFD city employee and former head of the local firefighters union for many years.

Like this comment
Posted by Karen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2009 at 8:00 pm

I am just astounded at all of these people who "retire" and then go to work somewhere else (and often collect more money - pretty often at the expense of the general public). Most of us will be happy to retire before we're 70 years old! Retirement should be there for us when we are too old and tired to do any more work. It should NOT be paid to anyone who gets tired of a job or is politely kicked out of their job. That's called "quitting" or "getting fired" in the vernacular of regular people.

And, I have to say... this is the very first time I have ever agreed with Cholo. Amazing.

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