Fire chief to retire (again)

Fire chief to retire (again)

Michele Ellson
Mike D'Orazi

Alameda Fire Chief Mike D’Orazi is retiring, again.

D’Orazi is leaving the Alameda Fire Department on December 27 after serving as its chief for the past three and a half years. City Manager John Russo is appointing Deputy Chief Doug Long as his interim replacement.

“Chief D’Orazi has been a visionary leader in the fire department,” Russo was quoted as saying in a press release issued Monday. “We will miss his experience, wisdom, and future oriented perspective.”

Long joined the Alameda Fire Department as a firefighter, in 1988.

D’Orazi stepped in as chief in May 2011, six months after David Kapler resigned as the city’s fire chief in the wake of a scandal over his personal use of city gas pumps and just days before a man drowned in the waters off Robert W. Crown State Beach as more than a dozen police and firefighters watched.

In the wake of the drowning, D’Orazi made policy changes, mandated training and sought out and purchased equipment to rebuild the city’s lapsed water rescue program. D’Orazi also worked toward the replacement of the seismically unsound Fire Station 3 and the city’s outmoded emergency operations center, and he helped create a new non-emergency ambulance transport service run by his department.

He also won city leaders’ approval to participate in the Alameda County Community Paramedicine Pilot Project, a two-year, county-funded pilot intended to help divert patients from expensive hospital emergency room visits by assigning a pair of firefighters to visit chronically ill patients to make sure they’re taking care of themselves and that they have access to the resources they need. Alameda is one of just two departments in the county to be selected for the pilot, which begins in January.

D’Orazi originally retired from the department as a captain, in 2007. Russo brought the popular former union boss back as discontent in the department ran high, and D’Orazi was successful in soothing it.

“We’re very happy," Domenick Weaver, then-president of the Alameda's Firefighters Association, was quoted as saying in a 2011 news story announcing D’Orazi’s hire. "D'Orazi has a good knowledge of the fire service, he has an institutional knowledge, and also has the support and buy-in of our membership.”

D’Orazi, who said he's looking forward to his retirement, called his experience leading the fire department "challenging and rewarding."

"I relied on my instincts that the people I knew in the Alameda Fire Department were talented and just needed the opportunity to excel," he said.

He said he was "honored" to have the chance to make a difference.

“My career in the Alameda Fire Department is a positive defining experience I will carry with me forever,” D'Orazi said.


Submitted by Tom (not verified) on Tue, Nov 11, 2014

I don’t have any info on Chief D”Orazi on way or the other.
And I wish him well in his new retirement.

Also, I appreciate the emergency service workers of our city including Fire and Police and am glad they are here when we need them, just like the garbage men/women, Alameda Power and Light worker crews, Alameda Public works field workers and all City workers etc etc.

Firemen/Firewomen are paid to extract us from the clutches of death and that is as laudable a profession as they come. Sure they do other tasks but, I’m just sure we need not pay them as much we currently do.

There are lots of problems with how much our city and most california cities pay for emergency services especially the excessive and unsustainable salaries and benefits now paid to most Firemen/Firewomen especially in the Bay Area.

Linked below is access to database of 2012 City of Alameda Salaries and Benefits paid to Alameda City employees. A stunning 1943 persons on the payroll that year. Just scan thru the amounts paid and benefits received for a work week for which most workers are employed only four days a week for the City Offices are closed on Fridays. Im sure most Alamedan’s don’t come close to most of these police, fire and administrative staff salaries.

Chief D’Orazi received a 2012 base pay of $181,587.77 and with benefits an amount of $265,740.19.

Yearly CALPERS Retirement for Firemen is calculated at (3%/year employed x highest salary). Thus D’Orazi from my calculations using year 2012 and based only on Base salary are the following:

3%/year employed x 26 years x $181,587.77/year 2012 = $141,638.46/year in retirement.

So the Chief will likely be paid at least $141,638.46/ year for the rest of his life including yearly cost of living adjustments with medical benefits too. Paid for mostly by your and my taxes! Not a bad retirement package.

No wonder the (Fire Union) IAFF Local 689 works to control (and has controlled) many elections in this town. They have built the most powerful and well funded union political power here in Alameda.

WHY? Because the City Council votes on their city employment contracts and underwrites a significant portion of their retirement benefits.

When Firemen/Firewomen (IAFF Local 689) have enough BBQ’s, Pancake Breakfasts, Pumpkin give aways and underwrite the campaign costs of the mayor and most city council members they have in the past had a winning team to extend and ensure their pay and benefits….except it did not work this year as we voted out Stewart Chen and voted in a candidate which took no money from unions or developers.

If our current mayor (Gilmore) is ousted (should know later this week) we will have replaced two of the IAFF Local 689 controlled City council members with those not beholden to them.

Hopefully Matarrese and Spencer will be able to input reason and control to keep the city out of bankruptcy created mostly by the 75-80% of the budget for the city which goes to Police and Fire!!!

Submitted by John Miller (not verified) on Tue, Nov 11, 2014

Thanks Mike, May you have a long,happy,and healthy retirement. All the Best.

Submitted by Ken Gutleben (not verified) on Wed, Nov 12, 2014

Glad to see you go Mike. Now that your gone maybe we get someone who can get us the much needed emergency water supply (salt water pumps). You said it was a high-priority knowing that Alameda would loose its water pressure during an earthquake and that if a fire were to break out there would be no way to stop the fire. But instead you decided to build the fire station #3(a club house for the firemen). Just remember Mike after the firestorm hits Alameda that you could have notified the Pubic and sought funds for the water system which could save lives, So enjoy my hard earned money & thanks for leaving. I hope Mayor Spencer will get someone responsible for the job.

Submitted by luczai (not verified) on Sat, Nov 15, 2014

“My career in the Alameda Fire Department is a positive defining experience I will carry with me forever,” D'Orazi said. Sure he will, in his heart and in his bank account. I have no beef with supporting public service workers who are disabled or their families if they are killed on the job, but these retirement packages for all and sundry are sucking the lifeblood out of the city. Something has got to change.