Hail to the fire chief
On June 1, longtime Assistant Fire Chief and Kenwood resident Daren Bellach stepped into a bigger pair of fire boots – as Kenwood Fire Protection District’s new fire chief.
Bellach took over from Bill Shubin, who has held the part-time position for five years. Shubin will remain in his position as deputy fire chief for the Santa Rosa Fire Department.
Bellach first moved to Kenwood in the early 1980s, and started with the Kenwood Fire Department in 1989. He lives in Kenwood with his wife Michelle, and their children, Austin, Tyler and Lucas.
Two full captains will also be on duty, starting July 1, which is good news for Kenwood.
Like other volunteer fire departments in Sonoma County, Kenwood has been faced with a shortage of volunteers. Five years ago there were 23. Now there are 11.
To try to address the lack of volunteers, the district directors recently approved the hiring of two new paid captains to assist in covering the calls, most of which are medical aid responses.
“We will now have a 24-hour, 7-day a week fire crew with a captain on duty at all times,” Bellach said. “It’s the first time we’ve had that.”
The hires will enable the department to ensure 24/7 coverage, and guarantees that at least one department member will be sleeping over at the station every night.
The district encompasses approximately 40 square miles of territory, serves about 4,000 people, and has an annual budget of about $840,000. The District’s primary source of revenue is from property taxes. There is also an annual benefit assessment levy on parcels within the district boundaries.