Livermore City Manager Marc Roberts said it all last week when he joined his Pleasanton counterpart Nelson Fialho in welcoming elected officials from both cities at the "pinning" and installation of Ruben Torres as the new chief of the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department.
"Let me welcome you," he told the more than 100 assembled at the department's headquarters on Nevada Street near Bernal Avenue, "to one of the few places that is a part of both the cities of Livermore and Pleasanton."
Sitting in front row seats and nodding in agreement were Mayors Jerry Thorne of Pleasanton and John Marchand of Livermore along with members of the two cities' Councils.
Police from both cities, including the chiefs, were also there, a "coming together" of two cities that once held each other at arm's length with occasional legal battles, but now work together on major issues, especially with regard to public safety.
The Livermore and Pleasanton fire departments were merged in December, 1998 after months of negotiations. Some said it wouldn't last. But today, with Torres becoming the fourth chief of the merged LPFD, it's a success story that has made the combined department more efficient, better trained and better equipped. The department now has stood the test of time and serves as an example to other communities that share boundaries that it can make sense economically to also share services.
Torres, who brings 29 years of fire service in San Jose to the LPFD, didn't shy away from proceeding with his application when he learned he would be reporting to the city managers of two different cities, two separate City Councils, and dealing with the populations of two different cities.
"Serving as fire chief is an extremely difficult job in any jurisdiction; it can be even tougher when you're serving two different cities," Roberts said at the public ceremony. "We were looking for a chief who could serve both these groups, and we found one."
Fialho, who shared the recruitment effort with Roberts, quipped that Torres was the only applicant "who didn't run out of the room when we said he would have to report to two city managers."
But Fialho added that Torres has a track record of success in San Jose at all levels: entry-level firefighter, engineer, captain, battalion chief, deputy chief, assistant chief, fire marshal and most recently fire chief of the 10th largest fire department I the country with over 30 stations and 600 on its sworn firefighter staff.
Torres, after being sworn in by Livermore City Clerk Susan Neer, told the assembly to loud applause:
"I am excited about my future with the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department because I have been given another gift to live out this department's core values: commitment to caring, dedication to safety, dignity and respect for all, integrity and pride, providing solutions, valuing traditions, and evolving with innovation.
"I look forward to serving alongside the firefighters here to continue to accomplish the department's core purpose: to make the Livermore and Pleasanton communities safe for all citizens, to live and work for the protection of life, property and the environment."