Maxwell, 47, will replace the retired Bruce Clark at Central Fire Protection District — an agency with 54 firefighters that serves Live Oak, Soquel and Capitola.
In his stead, Battalion Chief John Stipes will take over as interim chief of the Zayante Fire Department while the board of directors posts the job opening and completes the hiring process.
Board member Priva Tarbet said Maxwell has been very important to the department in many ways.
“The firefighters all have a great respect for him and feel confident in his leadership,” Tarbet said. “Zayante has been very, very lucky to have him as our chief for as long as we’ve had.”
Maxwell is a San Lorenzo Valley High School graduate and will continue to live just down the road from the fire station.
“There is a very tight sense of community here,” Maxwell said of the 23 volunteer district and its four paid firefighters. “We know we provide a high level of service, and I’m going to try to carry that to Central.”
He said he made the difficult decision to leave the district in order to stop commuting to the Moraga Orinda Fire Protection District, where he has worked as a battalion chief for two days each week since 2007.
He’s looking forward to the challenges that Central faces, like dealing with storm damage along the coast and water rescues.
“Storm surge is not in my portfolio,” he joked, noting that fire trucks at Central must carry surfboards on their engines.
Maxwell credits the rapport between the Zayante and Lompico communities and the district that previous fire chiefs Nick Pagnini and Ken Boynton fostered for the success he’s had as chief. At the annual fire team pancake breakfast, about 1,500 people showed up.
“This community knows who we are and they support us,” Maxwell said.
During his time with Zayante, Maxwell noted the district has a balanced budget and re-financed bonds that were selling with a 10 percent interest rate to between 4 percent and 6 percent, saving homeowners money.
He was also instrumental in the district choosing to generate its own electricity with solar panels and earning a strong insurance rating, the number that determines fire insurance costs for people in the district.
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