Even though Fire Chief Tom Vallee is walking away from his job of running the town’s Fire Department, he still remains confident the town will get over the bump in the road that the failure of Measure C created in the town of Ross.
“I’m confident the town will survive and get over this hurdle,” said Vallee, 55, who ends a 37-year firefighting career in his native Ross on July 2. “The support has always been there in the community. It’s now time for me to decompress for a while.”
Town officials continue to mull over their options since the public safety tax failed to achieve its two-thirds majority. Deep cuts are projected at least for a year as the town tries to make up approximately $642,000 it will lose.
One of Vallee’s pet projects will be among the departments affected. The Ross fire apprenticeship program was initiated by the chief in 2006. The program was begun to expose young firefighters to the job and provide a training ground for future jobs.
“Yes, it’s been very successful,” Vallee said. “It’s nice to be able to work with the guys you’re ultimately going to hire.”Vallee estimates several firefighters have prospered in the program. In fact, two were hired by Ross.
Vallee has been one of the driving forces behind the merger of the Ross Department with the Ross Valley Fire Department. The consolidation efforts are projected to save $100,000 the first year.
Ross Valley Fire Chief Roger Meagor will oversee the department.
“This whole merger thing was quite an undertaking,” Vallee admitted. “Now it’s time for me to relax a bit. I’m sure there’s another career around the corner, but not just right away.
“I feel really good about leaving things in Roger’s hands. He’s very capable, and our council has been supportive of everything we’re trying to do.”Outgoing Ross council member Scot Hunter, a member of the town’s Public Safety Committee for eight years, echoed those comments.
“I really think Tom believes the community and the guys will be really taken care of,” Hunter said. “We’ve worked together for many years. And I know Tom wanted to make sure everything was going to be OK.”
Vallee said he still will serve as president of the Ross Valley Rotary Club.
The retiring chief grew up in the town of Ross and attended Ross School. “It was quite a bit different back then,” he joked.
He started his firefighting career as a volunteer in Ross in 1975. After earning a degree in environmental studies from UC Berkeley, Vallee rejoined the Ross department in 1981 as a full-time captain.
In 1993, he was promoted to administrative captain, and in August 2008 the town of Ross appointed him fire chief. Vallee also holds a master’s in public administration from the University of San Francicso.
He also served the town as fire marshal and as emergency disaster coordinator.
“Tom’s really been totally dedicated to Ross; that pretty much sums it up,” Hunter said. “True, he’s a hometown boy, has a good sense of the community and is a total professional on top of all that.”
Vallee and his wife, Tami, live in Windsor and have two grown children.
Town of San Anselmo - Town of Fairfax - Town of Ross - Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District
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