ALBANY -- Lance Calkins, a 24-year veteran of the Stockton Fire Department was approved by the City Council July 15 as the new chief of the Albany department, succeeding Ed Tubbs, who retired from the department in May.
Calkins, 48, handled practically every duty for the Stockton department, including firefighter; engineer; captain, battalion and division chief; fire marshal; emergency medical services and heavy rescue.
"We were really impressed with him," Albany Mayor Peggy Thomsen said. "He has already been working with the staff and the department to get to know each other. We're very excited about having somebody new who seems very excited about coming here. He has a lot of energy and a lot of experience and I think it will be a good fit."
Calkins said he thought Albany was a good fit as well.
"During the interview process, I was very impressed at the teamwork and dedication of the council and the city employees to the community," he said. "I felt very welcome. That really made my mind up."
Calkins was born in Sacramento and was then adopted by a family in Stockton, where he grew up. He worked as an auxiliary firefighter in Stockton as a teenager. He has since earned a master's degree in leadership with an emphasis on disaster preparedness and executive fire leadership, and has a bachelor's degree in fire management, according to a city staff report.
Calkins said he has been fortunate during his career in Stockton.
"I've been lucky I've been able to get into those positions to really learn them," Calkins said. "It's rare that you get an opportunity to go through all of those spots. It was a timing thing with the openings, I was there at the right time."
Calkins is looking forward to bringing that experience to Albany. He said moving to a smaller department was appealing to him. He began his career with a 1½-year stint for the Waterloo-Morada Fire Protection District, a smaller district on the northeast corner of Stockton.
"I like the small town community, where you're able to know people and they know you," Calkins said. "You're able to network. I really miss that from the fire department that I was working in Morada. There's a lot of positives for working for a smaller department."
Calkins said some of the challenges with a smaller department include resources.
"There's less staff," he said. "There's a lot of administrative staff in a bigger department. You don't have as much of those resources in a smaller department. It's real challenging to be cost-effective when you're training with a small group of people. You have to really rely on firefighters to do extra duties that aren't normally required. A lot of administrative work needs to be done at those lower levels."
Calkins has been working hard to begin the transition. Before attending Monday's council meeting, he had dinner at the fire house with one of the shifts.
Calkins is married with a grown daughter and two grown stepchildren and is looking for a house in Albany or nearby. He said he expected the higher rents in the area but not such a limited number of houses available.
On the other hand, he said Monday, the Bay Area weather is hard to beat, especially on an afternoon in Stockton when it was supposed to be 110 degrees.