Dec. 22, 2009 — The man who has built a long-standing reputation as being a humble servant of the community retires on Dec. 30, and to the county’s detriment, Susanville Fire Chief Stu Ratner is also moving to Chico, Calif.
So many people will miss him that it is even hard for the professional wordsmiths at the paper explain how much Ratner means to the people of Lassen County. He moved here in the mid-70s and worked at the fire department for more than 30 years, moving up through the ranks to fire chief.
As chief, he earned the respect of his firefighters, the City Council and other fire agencies throughout the county though he claims a chief is only as good as the people he or she has working for them. With his foresight and ability to work a budget Ratner was able to keep the city’s ISO rating down by purchasing a ladder truck from the Chico Fire Department. One of his last deals as chief was to negotiate the purchase of a second ladder truck from Chico. (No word at press time if the first truck would be retired or not.)
Ratner, who is anxious to join his wife Jan and children Sarah, Janna, Tessa, David, Mallory and Zachary in Chico, said he is leaving the city fire department in good hands, and we trust him to be telling us the truth.
Besides proving his mettle as firefighter and fire chief, Ratner has shown us that he is a man of integrity. Never in the years he has had interaction with the newspaper staff has he been rude, mean spirited or standoffish. He will tell us, and therefore the reader, how he is using allocated funds, what his plans have been for improvements, how fires have started and most importantly how citizens can protect themselves from fire. Not once in any current writer’s memory has there been any incident whereby we have wondered if the fire chief has spun the truth to satisfy the city powers that be. Ratner is a straight arrow and a pleasure to talk to and interview.
Last, we see a gentleman when we are around Ratner. He shows respect to authority by addressing the council with deference to their elected positions. He is soft spoken when talking to members of the public and not once has the paper staff heard him raise his voice.
Ratner is the type of person who makes a city a better place to live and we will be hard pressed to replace him. As a result we are naming him our Man of the Decade.
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