Only in his position for two years, Ceres Fire Chief Kevin Wise announced his departure effective last Thursday.
Wise resigned to become deputy fire chief for the city of Fremont in the Bay area.
Ceres City Manager Tom Westbrook said the Ceres Fire Department will be administered by Interim Chief Mike Botto, who retired as Oakdale’s fire chief in 2011. Botto is experienced at stepping in to fill vacancies. When then Oakdale City Manager Steve Hallam was dismissed in April 2011, Botto stepped in to serve in an “interim” capacity as Acting City Manager.
Westbrook said he will miss Wise.
“At this point in his career, this is a good for him and his family but I will certainly miss Chief Wise and his leadership over the fire department,” said Westbrook.
Botto will serve until as interim chief until the search process of an expected couple of months produces a permanent pick. Westbrook said he expects candidates to apply from within the ranks of the Ceres Fire Department.
During the Feb. 8 Ceres City Council meeting Wise called his decision “bitter-sweet.”
“I want to thank the citizens of Ceres, the City Council and the firefighters for giving me the opportunity to serve as your fire chief,” said Wise. “I’ve learned a lot over the last couple of years and I hope I left the department better than when I found it.”
Wise, formerly a battalion chief with the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire District, was selected as Ceres’ fire chief in January 2021. He replaced Bryan Nicholes who retired in August 2017. Prior fire chiefs included Director of Public Safety Art deWerk and Fire Commander Brian Weber.
Wise had been with Stanislaus Consolidated since July 2012 and was formerly employed with the Oakdale and Woodland Avenue fire departments. He earned his associate degree in Fire Science from Modesto Junior College in 2004 and his bachelor’s degree in Fire Administration from Cogswell Polytechnical College in San Jose. He also attended the National Fire Academy’s executive fire officer program from 2014 to 2018.
In 2016 Wise made local news when he received a bone marrow transplant and beat cancer for a second time. He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2011 which he beat through leukemia. In September 2015 doctors learned that he had acute myeloid leukemia. After additional rounds of chemotherapy he was given a bone marrow transplant and is in remission.