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Davis, California

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Interim fire chiefs take over at UCD and Davis

While students’ worlds currently revolve around finals and term papers, the city of Davis welcomed two new interim fire chiefs last week to the UCD and city of Davis Fire Departments.

Though there is no permanent chief in place, City Manager Bill Emlen hired former Milpitas Fire Chief Bill Weisgerber, Jr. as an interim fire chief for the city, while the UCD Fire Department’s Assistant Chief Operations Nate Trauernicht will step in on campus.

Davis’ former fire chief retired after a 31-year career. After 16 years as chief of the Davis Fire Department, Rose Conroy was honored last week at the Capitol as the 8th District’s “Woman of the Year” by Rep. Mariko Yamada (D-Woodland).

The interim chief performs all the same duties, except the position is temporary. The department is focusing on updating technology, creating budget projects and forming a more efficient system.

“You really have to get up to speed on the organization of the department and the issues quickly,” Weisgerber said. “Orienting yourself to a new operation, while trying to maintain continuity is an intense process in the beginning.”

Weisgerber served on the Milpitas Fire Department for over 30 years, was chief for seven years and also has previous experience as an interim fire chief. Though he retired in 2005, he provided consulting services to local fire agencies. In 2008 he became the Interim Fire Chief for West Sacramento, and from 2008 to 2009 was the Interim Executive Director for the Yolo Emergency Communications Agency.

Emlen praised Weisgerber for his previous work and believes he will make significant contributions to the community during his time in Davis.

“Mr. Weisgerber’s extensive background and experience in all aspects of fire service and emergency response in California make him an excellent choice to head up the Davis Fire Department on an interim basis,” Emlen said in a press release. “I am confident he will be able an effective interim chief, and I look forward to utilizing his expertise in the coming months to serve and support members of the department and to represent the needs of the city and community.”

Weisgerber spends his weekends at home with his wife in San Jose, while he stays in an apartment in Dixon on weekdays.

Changes are also coming to the campus fire department, a separate entity from the city’s fire department.

UCD Fire Chief Joe Perry is also retiring after 38 years of service and has been the chief for UC Davis since 2004. Before coming to Davis he was a fire chief in Napa for 12 years.

“I’ve had a wonderful experience here,” Perry said. “There are a lot of great people committed to the community in Davis.”

With Perry leaving at the end of March, UCD Fire Department’s Assistant Chief Operations Nate Trauernicht will take over as an interim.

Weisgerber is paid as a temporary city employee, and Trauernicht will be paid with a stipend.

With both fire chiefs retiring, the city and university are considering consolidating the departments. Emlen will present the idea of merging the fire departments at tomorrow night’s City Council meeting.

UCD Vice Chancellor of Administrative & Resource Management John Meyer, who hired Trauernicht, said the merge would primarily save money in the long run and improve services.

Though the amount of money that would be saved has yet to be determined, reviewing the consolidation would cost about $40,000 plus staff time. Both the city and UC Davis would share costs of the report, while Davis’ overall share of the costs is not expected to exceed $25,000.

More consulting is required and the process could take up to a year, Meyer said.

ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached city@theaggie.org.

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