On Tuesday night, Fire Chief Nathan Trauernicht, who heads both the Davis and UC Davis Fire Departments, earned a unique and rare distinction, becoming only the 30th person in the history of the State of California to receive the California Certified Fire Chief designation.
On hand to present the Chief with this honor was Tonya Hoover, California State Fire Marshal, who was appointed in 2011 by Governor Brown and subsequently confirmed by the State Senate.
She explained that the Certified Fire Chief is the final level for the fire officer track for the state. She said, “This level is only awarded after the performance assessment competency has been conducted by a peer assessment committee.”
Ms. Hoover explained that Chief Trauernicht spent over four hours in an interview process with a committee explaining his career track and achievements. He was required to complete all of the chief officer certification classes, “but the person must also possess a minimum educational level of a bachelor’s degree… Have an advocate develop a tailored portfolio of life experience in the fire service, provide letters for other fire chiefs and other fire service personnel as reference, make all of the appropriate notifications and submit the application to the state fire marshal.”
According to background information, the State Board of Fire Services recognized in the early 1990s that the firefighter certification process was missing an element, an element that would “recognize the skill levels necessary to be a fire chief.”
A study was conducted by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) – Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM), together with the League of California Cities, which “resulted in the creation of an application process that combined education, experience, and practical application into a career profile.”
This application process was adopted by the State Board of Fire Services and given the title of “Fire Chief Certification.”
The information explains, “Both the State of California and the national process have evolved and now mirror one another. CAL FIRE – OSFM has entered into a reciprocity agreement with the CPSE so that candidates from California would achieve recognition at the national level. This reciprocity agreement has been exercised to encourage a high level of professional mobility.”
The information continues, “The Chief Fire Officer Certification Program sits as a capstone for the certification and qualification system. It should be considered as a goal for upward mobility in the fire service. Its achievement by an individual is a highly desired qualification.”
Retired State Fire Marshal Ron Coleman, who created the process and was the first recipient, served as Chief Trauernicht’s advocate during this process. He said, “After serving as Nathan’s advocate for Fire Chief Designation in California, I can truthfully say that he is the poster person for the future of fire chiefs qualifying to lead the fire service.”
He added, “He is a role model for the process of preparing to provide leadership. I am proud to have worked with him in the designation process.”
Marshal Hoover noted that there are almost 1000 fire departments in California. Each one has a fire chief or chief fire executive. She said, with the amount of time and energy required to complete the certification, “you can see why we only have 29 in the state of California.”
“Tonight it is with great pleasure that I have an opportunity to present to the chief this prestige of being the 30th certified fire chief in the State of California,” she said handing him the certificate.
Chief Trauernicht expressed his gratitude to the city council and his colleagues, noting that this is the culmination of his goals from when he was quite young, “to be in the fire service and serve people and make people’s lives better.” He added, “Hopefully more and more fire chiefs in California will pursue this as they work towards personal and professional excellence.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting