Longtime fire volunteer takes Murphys's top job

March 24, 2003 12:00 am

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

Bob Pereira's lifelong dream has been to lead a fire department.

And it's come true.

Pereira, 50, will take over as chief for the Murphys Fire Protection District, filling an opening that has existed since June.

He is a fire captain with the Woodside Fire Protection District in San Mateo County, and a volunteer captain for two other stations: the Jamestown Fire Protection District and Tuolumne County Fire Department Station 62 in Moccasin. He was formerly the captain at the county's Station 64 at Don Pedro.

He is in the process of retiring from Woodside and expects to start in Murphys May 1.

"I'm ready to go," Pereira said last week from his Jamestown home. He is looking for a new house in Murphys.

"I plan to add to the already professional, motivated staff of the Murphys Fire Protection District."

Pereira replaces Phil Phillips, who has been serving as interim fire chief at the Murphys station since June, when then-fire chief Pat Murphy resigned.

The fire district — which covers Murphys and Vallecito — has about 28 volunteers and one part-time employee.

Phillips said Pereira was chosen from among three finalists selected from a pool of 15 candidates. A fourth finalist withdrew.

"I think he's an excellent choice for the district and I think he will bring new ideas to the district," Phillips said. "We have a good fire department now, but it can only improve under him."

Pereira will be paid $3,000 a month. He must work 30 hours per week, plus respond to emergency calls.

"They felt that he would be a good mix with the volunteers," Phillips said. "He had a good background in training and he would be with the district for a long time."

Pereira has spent most of his life firefighting. He got his foot in the door in 1972 as a volunteer in Santa Clara. A year later, he began a six-year stint with the California Department of Forestry.