Bellach to be new Kenwood fire chief
The Kenwood Fire Department will have a new fire chief come June 1, and he’s a familiar face around town – current Assistant Fire Chief Daren Bellach.
At its meeting on Jan. 10, the Board of Directors of the Kenwood Fire Protection District selected Bellach to be the ninth fire chief since the district was formed in 1946.
Bellach will take 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.
“It’s been a great experience,” said Shubin, who told the district directors when he was hired in 2011 that he would serve five years. “The District is awesome. The volunteers are great – but it’s time for a changing of the guard.”
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 he has three children, Austin, Tyler and Lucas.
District Director Dennis McIntosh said that Bellach is ready to step up to the new position.
“He’s well-liked and well-rounded,” said McIntosh. “It’s good all the way around.”
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.
Like other volunteer fire departments in Sonoma County, Kenwood has been faced with a shortage of volunteers. Now there are 11. Five years ago there were 23.
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.
The hires will enable the department to ensure 24/7 coverage and guarantees that at least one department personnel will be sleeping over at the station every night. It is hoped that the hiring process for the two captains will be completed by May.