Piedmont fire chief to leave for Port Townsend, Washington

Chris Treadway

Piedmont Fire Chief Bret Black

Piedmont Fire Chief Bret Black has accepted a new position as Chief of East Jefferson Fire and Rescue in Port Townsend, Washington. He will leave Piedmont in late November for his new job.

“It’s a little bittersweet,” Chief Black said. “I worked really hard since coming to Piedmont to build some relationships. Leaving those won’t be easy. I’m looking forward to coming back to visit.”

Black, 50, became Piedmont Fire Chief on October 1, 2018. He began his career in 1997 with the Skywalker Ranch Fire Department. He served with the Clovis Fire Department in multiple positions, rising to the rank of Battalion Chief before coming to Piedmont.

“The Piedmont community has benefited from Chief Black’s time in Piedmont,” said City Administrator Sara Lillevand in a press release.

“[Bret’s] knowledge of the fire service, particularly in the area of wildland fire, has helped focus the Fire Department and organization as a whole on this important topic. We will miss his team spirit, sense of humor, and dedication to his profession.”

City Administrator Sara Lillevand

Said Chief Black, “I wasn’t actively looking for a new opportunity. This came up suddenly. I saw myself in Piedmont and the Bay Area a long time.

“It all kind of happened real quick. It’s exciting. It’s going to be a fun, new part of my family’s life. I’m sad to leave Piedmont because I have a lot of friends who are city employees and in the community.

He added, “My wife and I are from a mountain community near Yosemite. We’ve talked about it. It would be nice to get back to a mountain community.”

Bret and Nimai Black have three grown sons, which contributed to the move as well. Two of them accompanied their parents on a trip up to Port Townsend recently.

“We took a family vacation up there where we saw the recruitment announcement,” Chief Black said. “We all fell in love with the area. The lifestyle is a different pace, the affordability is a little bit of a factor. The family is a bigger factor. They unanimously told us they love that area.”

Chief Black described his new job as covering about 80 acres with about 30,000-40,000 people living in the area. Port Townsend is the main town. The area has lots of outdoor recreational activities, something that appeals to him.

“We raised our boys in the foothills of Yosemite,” he said. “The Olympic Peninsula National Park is out the back window. We’re very outdoorsy. Instead of being brown, it’s all green up there. A little more moisture.”

Piedmont announced in a press released that a nationwide recruitment process will commence for Chief Black’s replacement.

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