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Fire Chief Torres leaving LPFD for top spot in Santa Clara

Peters taking over as interim chief while cities work to find next leader

Fire Chief Ruben Torres is stepping down from the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department next month after agreeing to become the next leader of the Santa Clara Fire Department, LPFD officials announced on Friday.

A longtime firefighter and former fire chief in San Jose, Torres led LPFD for just over four years as the fourth permanent fire chief since the two cities' fire departments merged in 1996.

Assistant fire chief Jeff Peters has been selected as interim fire chief to lead LPFD while Pleasanton and Livermore leaders recruit for the department's next permanent leader -- a process that could extend into 2020.

"I have been so fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead not only one, but two cities in their joint fire protection services, and am proud of what the department has accomplished during my service in Livermore and Pleasanton. I will always be grateful for this unique opportunity," Torres said in a statement Friday morning.

Torres took the helm at LPFD in February 2015 after 29 years with the San Jose Fire Department, where he'd claimed the ranks from an entry-level firefighter all the way up to fire chief of the nation's 10th largest fire department at the time. Torres said he was attracted to the LPFD position for the chance to lead a smaller department.

He will now return to his native South Bay, taking over for retiring Fire Chief Bill Kelly at the Santa Clara Fire Department, effective June 30, after rising to the top in Santa Clara's nationwide recruitment process.

"I look forward to working in partnership with the community and building upon the great work that the Santa Clara Fire Department has accomplished over the past several years," Torres said in a statement released by that city. "As fire chief, I recognize the importance of our organization being well-positioned and nimble to address the service delivery demands of a growing city while also continuing to deliver extraordinary service for Santa Clarans."

Pleasanton and Livermore city leaders praised Torres for key efforts during his tenure with LPFD, including spearheading an update to the cities' joint-powers agreement for fire service, modernizing the department's fire apparatus and diversifying the department's workforce to better reflect the populations of both communities.

"The city of Pleasanton is grateful for Chief Torres' leadership," City Manager Nelson Fialho said in a statement. "His effective, results-driven approach has created the necessary framework for a world-class fire department that will operate well beyond his tenure. I'm very thankful for his service and his leadership of the department."

Livermore City Manager Marc Roberts added that his city benefited greatly from Torres' leadership and firefighting background.

"He demonstrated an exceptional ability to provide outstanding fire protection service to our two cities, and for that our communities have been better served. I am pleased to have had Ruben at the helm of LPFD and appreciative for his high level of professionalism," Roberts said.

The two cities will now coordinate on recruiting for the LPFD's next permanent fire chief, with Peters taking the reins on an interim basis in the meantime. Peters, who was born and raised in Livermore, has served as a firefighter in his hometown for nearly three decades, including the last four years as LPFD's assistant fire chief.

The upcoming hiring process is expected to last between six and eight months.

City leaders have said in the past that a major factor affecting recruitment is that the LPFD fire chief reports to both city managers and two separate City Councils while overseeing services for residents in two different cities.

The LPFD is governed by a JPA board of directors -- a subcommittee of city councils -- while the city managers of Livermore and Pleasanton serve as the department's joint executive directors. The JPA has allowed for more efficient administration and cost-effective delivery of fire services in Pleasanton and Livermore, according to leaders with both cities.

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Comments

9 people like this
Posted by Stan
a resident of Country Fair
on May 25, 2019 at 9:20 am

This time around, forget the expensive consultants and promote from WITHIN the department! These candidates from the outside tend to use our cities as mere stepping stones to bigger and better. If Assistant Chief Jeff Peters is good enough to fill the role on an interim basis, then for goodness sake just promote him and be done with it. Common sense approach people.


5 people like this
Posted by 30 yr resident
a resident of Downtown
on May 25, 2019 at 9:36 am

So the city leaders praised him for mirroring the communities. Here’s a thought, when it comes to life and death does who saves you matter. If all the best candidates are women then hire all the women, if they are all black, then hire all black, if they are all Mexican then hire all Mexicans. Mirroring the community has nothing to do with making the community safer but frankly coming from ‘our’ city government it is not at all surprising that they would push this tripe.


6 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 27, 2019 at 11:44 am

Yet another one pushing the PERS gold mine as far as it can go.


5 people like this
Posted by My opinion
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 31, 2019 at 3:51 pm

My opinion is a registered user.

@ Steve -- nope, you got that one wrong. First I will say that I knew of this chief both in SJ and here and I think he did a fine job. But the retirement picture is this. San Jose is self-funded, not PERS, and after 29 years there he was eligible for the highest retirement pay, starting even while working for LPFD. Then at LPFD he went to PERS and will continue to accumulate years in PERS while working for Santa Clara. All of this while getting MORE retirement pay from San Jose then when he worked. The 3% at 50 rule let him retire with 90% of his active pay from day one, growing to far more than he ever made while working in about 3 years. For life. Oh, and also getting COLAs and raises when the working firefighters do as well.

That's the real retirement picture. All current earnings should offset the retirement earnings and no participation in an additional system should grant higher payments.


6 people like this
Posted by Thanks Opinion
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 31, 2019 at 6:37 pm

Thanks @myopinion. If Willie Nelson was singing “Mama’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” now, he would sing, “let ‘-em be firefighters and cops and such”. This hero has to be making at least $400K+ Maybe as much as $500K annually while he is retired. And the last death in a home fire (or any fire) in Pleasanton was when? How many house fires in the last 5 years? These public servants do well while they are working and get rich in retirement. Not like your typical taxpayer.


1 person likes this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Jun 1, 2019 at 8:10 pm

James Michael is a registered user.

This is no surprise, this is what public servants do...they work the system. It's not illegal because the voters are stupid and until the laws are changed then these people will continue to milk the taxpayers. If you really want to get an eyeful then go to transparentcalifornia.com.


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