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Fire Chief D’Orazi’s Credentials Questioned

An Alameda resident is questioning if Interim Alameda Fire Department Chief Michael D’Orazi has the proper credentials to serve in the role. She’s been pulling State of California certification documents to bolster her case.

Alameda resident Denise Lai, a critic of the Alameda Fire Department (AFD) since the FISC Fire in 2009, went before Alameda City Council earlier this week, as they considered a new contract for AFD management, and said, “I’ve met Interim Chief D’Orazi, and as likeable of a fellow as he appears, he doesn’t appear to be qualified to be Chief.”

Ms. Lai provided copies of certificates from California State Fire Training (below) to Action Alameda News, and the following statement, reproduced from her blog.

“According to data I’ve received from CalFire and from the City of Alameda, Interim Fire Chief D’Orazi’s career shows that he took only the most basic courses during his time as a firefighter, was focused on his politically active position as president of the [union] Local IAFF 689, and only began actively educating himself beyond the basics in 2004 and 2005 so that he could teach upon his retirement from the Alameda Fire Department in 2005. None of the courses he took at that time qualified him for a career as a fire chief. While D’Orazi may be a fine firefighter and instructor, his career path has never been headed toward becoming a chief. Quite simply, he is not qualified to be a chief at any level.”

Lai also criticized AFD’s policies and procedures at this week’s council meeting. Subsequently, she provided to Action Alameda News this statement, “Worse, given what we know about the incredibly substandard procedures and protocols, the public is at continued, unacceptable, and moreover, unnecessary risk unless and until we get a fire chief who can bring the General Operating Bulletins immediately up to contemporary standards in the industry of firefighting. It’s reckless to have someone this unqualified as our fire chief.”

Alameda Fire Chief Certs

16 comments to Fire Chief D’Orazi’s Credentials Questioned

  • DHL

    AAN: Thanks for getting this information “out there”. It’s incomprehensible to me that any mayor or city manager, even an interim city manager, would think it makes sense to put a basic firefighter in the position of Fire Chief for a city of 74,000 people.

    Other cities, even smaller cities, have extensive requirements for Fire Chief, e.g., a B.A., M.A., or M.S. (particularly in Fire Science, Fire, Business, or Public Administration), achievement of–at a minimum–Level III in Fire Officer and Fire Fighter certificates, a minimum of 2 to 10 years of consecutive senior officer experience. And these cities require this while offering far less pay that our extremely generous city provides!

    It is incumbent upon CM Russo to fix this! He has the opportunity here to fill two fire management positions (replace D’Orazi and fill Fisher’s vacancy) with truly qualified people. Doing anything less is reckless endangerment of our public safety.

  • Isn’t being a good union man enough for the Local 689 and the City Council members they sponsor? Who needs proper training anyway? People like Raymond Zack, perhaps?

  • Trixie Green

    Let’s see: Mike D’Orzai is not qualified to be fire chief. He was, however the president of Local 689, the same union that helped Gilmore, Tam and Bonta buy their city council seats. And the Local that contributed even more money to retire the campaign debts of Gilmore, Tan, Bonta and our flip-flopping former mayor, Beverly Johnson, at the exact moment they were voting to approve the ultra-rich firefighters contract for pay and pensions. So, gee, do you think his appointment as interim fire chief, a job that doesn’t require posting or interviews, but can be done on the QT, do you think just maybe that was a classic act of political corruption, which is in fact illegal?

    Not that District Attorney O’Malley would ever agree to prosecute them, as it appears that she feeds at a similar political corruption trough

  • DHL

    Trixie: you summed it up perfectly!

  • DHL

    Let’s demand the City move the Fire Department to Alameda County Fire—it’d save $2.5M each year AND save lives and help restore citizen control over our local politics; Please sign this petition:
    http://www.change.org/petitions/move-alameda-city-fire-department-to-alameda-county-fire-department

  • Pat

    How is there a $2.5 million savings.

  • Pat

    If someone gets a degree at a credited university or takes classes other than with the SFM there would be no way to gather that information. There is a possibility that Mike D’Orazi has additional education & qualifications to support his ability to do the job.

  • Pat – would D’Orazi pass Menlo Park’s qualification requirements for division chief, let alone fire chief?

    http://www.menlofire.org/pdf/updates/Division%20Chief%20Announcement.pdf

  • DHL

    Pat:
    1. Moving to county fire saves 10% is costs (increasing returns to scale), that’s about $2.5M per year.
    2. It is NOT possible that D’Orazi has a degree at an accredited college or university and I don’t have that information: I made a public documents request for all the documents that qualify each person in the positions of management at the fire department. Olson holds an AA in Science, Tunney has an AA from Chabot College (no subject noted), while Battalion Chief Zombeck holds an AA from Chabot College in Liberal Studies “with highest honors” and a B.S. in Occupational Studies from CSU Long Beach. MOREOVER, Zombeck holds SEVEN fire command certificates (increasing levels) mostly gotten within the last 5 years where D’Orazi holds two from 1983 and 2004; Zombeck holds 5 fire management certificates (increasing levels), again, gotten in recent years while D’Orazi holds one, the lowest level only and in 2004 he became qualified to teach that one lowest level. Most fire departments require that anyone applying for chief must have CONSECUTIVE years of experience as an officer and/or chief; D’Orazi’s been retired for 6 years. I can go on actually, I have all the data. While D’Orazi may have had a fine career as a firefighter and a politician, it is clear from the documentation that he never intended to be fire management, to be a chief officer; the documents evidence a career empty of officer and fire or public management training/certificates and education/degrees.

  • Pat

    Denise, what items specifically save 10% for the COA.

    The only way you would know if D’Orazi or any other person employed by the city has continuos education is if that emplyee turned in their degree or certificate of completion to be placed in their personnel file. I have completed additional education since I have been with my employer, but I did not submit those documents, therefore they are not in my personnel file. If someone like yourself who makes public information request would not have any idea that I have increased by knowledge by continuing to educate myself at my own expense.

    Why would you request the information anyway. Do you request information about all city employees in many cities to compare or is it just the AFD.

  • DHL

    Pat: I request public documents when facts are not provided and when things don’t add up.

    First, it took the city over a month to satisfy my request; the AFD was not forthcoming, after the 10-day requirement they finally submitted a disorganized and incomplete set of certificates on various firefighters and none on management. I balked that my rights were being violated between the 10+ day response and their withholding of public documents. When they finally got the documentation to me, it was the day prior to the approval of the city’s MOU with fire management. What do you think? Does that look like deliberate obfuscation? Sure does. Yet, for you, the fact that I even made a public documents request is your greater concern? HUH?

    It’s curious that the notion that facts matter is so annoying to people in this city.

  • DHL

    The reason I made a public docs request this time? It didn’t make sense to me for the qualified/seasoned Interim Fire Chief Fisher to be suddenly replaced with another interim fire chief from outside the current staff and without a recruitment process. And then it was particularly worrying when the replacement was a retired-for-6-years firefighter who hadn’t been an officer ever but had been the president of the Local IAFF 689 whose political action committee (Alameda Fire Association PAC) has been funding Gilmore, Bonta, Tam, and now Johnson’s 2011 campaigns (before and after the elections both). So I made the request to understand what intellectual capital we have in the fire management at the AFD. And I was more than surprised to see the sorely lacking credentials for Chief Officer that D’Orazi holds particularly because as everyone has seen, the public safety is at risk from the failed performances of the AFD (2009 FISC, 2010 Crude Oil, 2011 Zack) and having someone at the helm can only exacerbate that already unacceptable risk, IMO.

  • ralph

    One of the real fact here no one even question the validity of these basic training which in many cases are done and sanctioned by fellow firefighters , no one question their quality , it is done in a public school , with name rank and city listed , Honestly would you give an F to an officer that may leave in your City , highly unlikely . the entire certification program is wrong.it is equal to give a surgeon licence to your neighbor because He She might be a nice person .
    With the Murder by negligence of Mr Zack Alameda ,by the AFD, with the under the table contract with the highly politically involved firefighter not even leaving in the City , with the Swap for profit to a Ron Cowan of public trust sanctionned by this City Counsel ,Mayor, Manager ,Attorney , Alameda is the little Chicago under Al Capone era run by Mafia like unions .

  • not mayberry

    I think DA O’Malley lives in an Alameda house she would want saved if it caught fire. [Another reason for volunteer fire depts.] I don’t think there are any college degrees that universally qualify one to be a firefighter nor do you have to have gone to college to pass the performance exams to become one. Thus certification is the only proof someone deserves their pay grade.[Altho I graduated from med school, that alone did not license me to practice medicine!] I guess Mr. D’Orazi’s title should be Fire Chief Politician.

  • 94502

    To the people in city hall and sitting in the fire departments across Alameda: every time I hear a siren I think, “They’re throwing another tantrum!”

  • Barb

    to not maybery: If DA O’Malley lives at Harbor Bay Isle, the fire department’s protocol does not even contemplate saving the house that is on fire first; the only goal is containment – keep it from spreading to other nearby houses. There is no hope to save anyone’s home at HBI if it is where the fire breaks out. The homes are simply too close, the streets too narrow to get the proper equiment in there. Just containment. We had to buy a special unit that combines ladder and other fire fighting capabilities the “Quint” for HBI.

    Something to think about as the Council gives away more city money to Ron Cowan to build more of these containment only homes.

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