In July, the council decided to seek replacements for the city’s three seats on the nine-member fire board. The city received 15 inquiries and nine qualified applications. On Tuesday, the council interviewed the top five contenders.
Bouillon was the top selection of the five candidates. A new resident of Oakley, Bouillon has 26 years of experience in fire protection, including six years as a fire chief in the Air Force, and has operated departments in South Korea, Belgium and Delaware. He is currently a fire captain at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield.
“My vision is to make sure that the department is stable … to ensure that the community is protected,” said Bouillon at Tuesday’s council meeting. His short-term goal would be to explore new revenue options, citing an example in a community where he used to work where a note was sent with the monthly water bills asking for donations. He said the program generated $5,000 per month, which was used to pay for fuel.
Finding revenue needed to bring the district back to full service was a concern for all of the candidates, which included Meghan Bell and Alan Hartford. For Johansen, finding funding is a priority, but educating the public is also one of his goals for the district. Despite the increased media attention and community outreach offered by the district when the fire tax initiative Measure S was on the ballot earlier this year, Johansen said his neighbors still don’t seem to understand the district’s struggles.
“We’ve been given the opportunity to re-engage the public – to go out and reach the public and go out and change their thoughts about this fire department,” Johansen said. “And more importantly, to have them understand where we’ve been so that we don’t go back there. It’s very important that they realize that the level of services we’ve had to endure – that is still in existence in this moment right now – is a level of service that really increases the risk to our firefighters. It increases risk of property loss to our citizens and community.”
Johansen, a 23-year Oakley resident, has been involved in fire protection services for 37 years. He is currently a tenured professor of fire and emergency medical services technologies at Las Positas College in Livermore.
Michaelson, a four-year Oakley resident, has 25 years of experience in fire services. He is currently a firefighter and paramedic for the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District and the first aid and safety coordinator at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo. He also owns and operates CPR Solutions, a program that offers CPR classes and certification.
Michaelson said his long-term goal for the district is to find and maintain funding to continue optimal levels of service. He sees his role as advisory, offering input and collaborating with other board members and Chief Hugh Henderson to find solutions to the district’s current problems and prevent strained funds and services from afflicting the district in the future.
The new board members will each serve two-year terms once they are sworn in.