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Pittsburg fire department welcomes new fire chief Dennis Reilley

The City of Pittsburg has appointed Dennis Reilley to serve as the new fire chief for the Pittsburg Fire Department, following the retirement of Mike Simmons. 

Reilly will begin his new role as fire chief in mid-October, upon moving from his home in California. Pittsburg Fire Marshal and safety coordinator Tom Vacca is serving as interim fire chief until Reilly assumes his role. 

“I’m looking forward to moving out there to Pittsburg and getting involved in the community,” Reilly said. “I haven’t been working for a little bit out here in California, and I just felt that I still had things that I could contribute to a community and things that I could contribute to a fire department.” 

Reilly has more than 44 years of experience as a firefighter and as a member of the Army. He has previously served as assistant fire chief in Davis, Calif, fire chief for Sunrise Beach, Mo, assistant fire chief in Linville N.C, and battalion chief for Cherry Hill Township, N.J. In the army, he spent over six years on active duty and was deployed during the Gulf War. 

Reilly holds an associate’s degree in fire protection from Durham Technical College, a bachelor’s degree in political science from North Carolina Central University, and a master’s of public administration from Penn State University. 

“I’ve been a firefighter since I was 16, being a firefighter and being in the army are basically the only… jobs I’ve ever had,” Reilly said. “I think that… I’ve been through a lot, I’ve had a lot of experiences and between my education and my experiences, I have a lot I can contribute back.”  

Daron Hall, Pittsburg city manager, believes Reilly’s experience made him an impressive candidate for the role as fire chief. 

“I am excited about Mr. Reilly’s willingness to become Pittsburg’s new fire chief,” Hall said in a press release. “His wealth of experience and his life-long commitment to fire service is impressive. I look forward to the positive impact he will have on both the fire department and our community.” 

Reilly believes he will be a good fit for the Pittsburg Fire Department. 

“I felt Pittsburg would be a good fit for me and I could be a good fit for Pittsburg,” he said. “… I think the size of the Pittsburg Fire Department is very attractive to me. When we have a good size staff there, but it’s not so big, you kind of lose touch with them. A lot of people who work in really big organizations, you’re just not connected to the people… We’re small enough I can really do some work throughout all the ranks and that’s very exciting for me. The city has a nice feel, the fire department has some good facilities.” 

While considering the job, Reilly said the leadership of Pittsburg made him feel welcomed, which led to him accepting the position. 

“I certainly think that the city and the city leadership have been very encouraging and very welcoming to me,” Reilly said. “I’ve been very impressed with Pittsburg and the city leadership…I think that the leadership in Pittsburg are already top-notch professionals. And when you have people of that caliber express some real interest… you can’t help but feel good and be excited about that.” 

Reilly is excited to begin his new role as fire chief and to work with the staff. He hopes to help the department continue their journey of “excellence.” 

“I think the Pittsburg fire department is in a good position,” he said. “Excellence is a journey, it’s not really the destination. And I am determined to go out there and help everybody in that organization to reach their full potential.” 

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