After seven months as interim fire chief, Kevin Donnelly has been named to take over the position permanently.
Donnelly said he is honored to be selected for the position and has enjoyed leading the department for the past seven months.
"As interim, not only did the city manager get a chance to look at me, but I got to look at the job," he said.
City Manager Blair King is recommending that Donnelly be promoted, and the Lodi City Council will decide whether to approve his contract on Wednesday. If approved, he will start on Jan. 25.
With the challenges of the budget cuts, King said Donnelly has performed well by ensuring the department can still provide necessary services on a reduced budget.
"Things are a little bit different in this environment, and Kevin has done really well," King said. "He has the support of the department and rank and file. He will lead the department into the future."
Donnelly will not receive a salary increase, so he will continue making $145,000, King said.
Usually the city would conduct a search to replace former chief Michael Pretz, but with the state of the economy and Donnelly's performance, it made sense to name him to the position permanently, King said.
"It's a real relief to have someone with Kevin's skills in house. It would have been difficult in this environment to have someone come in," King said.
Because Pretz took advantage of a two-year service credit toward his retirement, the department is required to leave a comparable job position open. Donnelly's previous job as division chief will remain vacant.
With the current economy, Donnelly said the biggest concern is the budget.
"There is a certain expectation of us to deliver service, and as professionals we want to provide them, so we have to find new, safe ways to do that," he said.
He also pointed out that the firefighters are required to do more now than they have in the past. He said examples are Homeland Security regulations or being able to handle a hazmat situation.
"There is something about the fire service in general. It's challenging all the time. It's a very dynamic business," he said.
Donnelly has worked in Lodi for 19 years as a firefighter, engineer, captain, battalion chief, division chief and fire marshal. He has worked in the fire service for a total of 24 years.
He has an associate's degree in fire science technology from San Joaquin Delta College, and a bachelor's degree in occupational studies for emergency management from California State University, Long Beach.
He has helped develop the operations section of the California Fire Chiefs Association and has served on its executive board. He has also served as a chairperson of the San Joaquin County Fire Chief's Training Officers Committee and is a past president of the Lodi Professional Firefighters union.
He said he looks forward to continuing to work with all the staff in his department.
"I'm very honored to have been selected," Donnelly said. "My wife and I live in the community and look forward to many more years."