News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 06/24/2010
Subject :

Police Chief Dennis Burns Appointed as Interim Fire Chief
Contact : James Keene, City Manager    650-329-2563
Palo Alto, CA – Palo Alto City Manager James Keene announced that Police Chief Dennis Burns will serve as Interim Fire Chief along with his duties as Police Chief until a replacement for retiring Fire Chief Nick Marinaro is hired. Burns will officially take the helm of the Fire department, in addition to his Police department responsibilities, on July 1, 2010. Burns, who is paid $178,568 as Police Chief, will be paid $199,000 during this period serving as director of both departments.

Keene expects to initiate a national recruitment for a new Fire Chief immediately but pointed out that it typically takes six months before a new Chief would take over. Chief Burns will effectively serve as Public Safety Director for the City during this interim, although Keene was quick to point out that this did not signal any intention to create a Public Safety department. "Rather than bring in a retired Fire Chief from outside our organization on contract for the short term, it makes more sense to stay close to home right now and ask Chief Burns to help out during the interim. He knows our organization and is respected by our Deputy Fire Chiefs and other Fire Department staff," Keene said.

Chief Burns has been with the City of Palo Alto for over 28 years and was appointed Police Chief in 2009. Earlier this year, he did an outstanding job as Incident Commander for the City's Emergency Operations Center during the citywide power outage on February 17 that was a result of a tragic plane crash.

"Chief Marinaro has been a great partner and mentor to me. I am honored to be offered this interim opportunity and look forward to serving the City in an expanded way as I work with the Fire Department during this transition period," said Dennis Burns, Police Chief. "I feel really fortunate to have the support of the City Manager as well as that of the command staffs of both the Fire and Police Departments and look forward to working with the outstanding command staff, firefighters and professional staff of the Fire Department."

"I have worked with Chief Burns over the years and know him to be an effective and competent public safety professional," said Nick Marinaro, Fire Chief. "This will be a great opportunity for him to broaden his experience and for Fire department staff to work more closely with their public safety peers at the City."

"I feel that with our current fire management staff, Chief Burns will be able to keep the flow of the organization going in this transition period. He already has the knowledge of how the city and public safety environment work so we won't have to bring a new interim Chief up to speed on how our system works," said Roger Bloom, Deputy Fire Chief. "His appointment also allows our current staff to spend time on day to day operations. The added benefit will be the inter-departmental coordination that we will develop from this temporary arrangement."

Keene spoke with representatives of both the Fire and Police unions this afternoon to discuss the interim appointment and inform them of his recruitment plans for a new permanent Fire Chief. Keene expects to visit all of the City Fire Department stations this summer to meet directly with fire department staff to talk about the traits and qualities that he should look for in the next Chief. As he has done with all key city department director positions, City Manager Keene will also reach out to the community for their input and assistance in the Chief search.

Nick Marinaro, Fire Chief since December 2004, retires this month after 34 years with the City.