Palo Alto, California Promotes Veteran Deputy To Fire Chief

Palo Alto's new fire chief will have a familiar face.

City Manager Frank Benest on Tuesday announced the appointment of Deputy Fire Chief Nicholas Marinaro, a longtime firefighter with more than 30 years experience.

``We have a bias for growing our own talent,'' Benest said.

Marinaro will replace interim chief Judy Jewell, who is retiring. Jewell took up the post after former Fire Chief Ruben Grijalva was named state fire marshal by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in August.

Benest said Marinaro has a deep understanding of city issues, along with extensive technical knowledge and strong relationships throughout city government. If confirmed by the city council, Marinaro will take his new post Dec. 11.

After starting his career as a student firefighter at Stanford University, Marinaro worked his way up through the ranks as paramedic, fire captain, training officer, battalion chief and fire marshal.

As new chief, he will face an immediate challenge: figuring out how to cut non-essential services to help the city deal with a $4 million to $6 million deficit.

``All of our departments will have to contribute to solving our budget problem,'' Benest said. He said some of the fire department's services, such as programs for dealing with hazardous materials, could be considered discretionary.

The fire department's total budget is about $19 million. Reached at home Tuesday evening, Benest said he did not immediately know what Marinaro's new salary would be.