Max Ming, who was praised as a unifying leader when he was named co-chief of the Forestville and Russian River fire protection districts nearly seven years ago, resigned last week from both positions.

Max Ming

Max Ming

Ming was asked to resign by the Forestville Fire District’s board of directors but his departure was unopposed by the River Fire Protection District Board, said river district board member Mark Emmett.

“It was their (Forestville’s) decision,” said Emmett.

Ming, who could not be reached for comment this week, was technically an employee of the Forestville district, with the Russian River district paying half Ming’s full-time salary in exchange for Ming’s services as the river district’s half-time chief.

Ming technically resigned Dec. 6 from the Forestville district, making his employment with the river district terminated as well, said directors.

Ming sent a brief letter of resignation to the Russian River Fire District, said district board president Nance Jones.

“We enjoyed working with Max. We wish him well,” said Jones who added the district will continue without a permanent chief for the time being.

“We’re investigating where we go from here,” said Jones. “We liked the idea of a shared chief. It was cost effective.”

Ming’s total annual compensation serving as chief of both districts was approximately $165,000, including salary and benefits. Prior to being named chief of the two districts, Ming served nearly 30 years as a firefighter in Forestville, where he started as a volunteer in 1984 and was hired a year later as a paid firefighter.

Officials said they did not expect an outcry similar to that of four years ago when Guerneville Fire Protection District directors attempted to remove Ming as the Russian River chief, prompting protest letters from firefighters in both districts and ultimately a successful recall election that ousted two river board directors, Kevin O’Shea and Linda Payne. Following that turmoil, Ming was reinstated as the river district chief. Since then he had continued serving as shared chief of both districts without controversy.

His resignation came after several closed session meetings with the Forestville district directors.

“I think there were a lot of things,” that led to Ming’s departure, said Monte Rio Fire Protection District Chief Steve Baxman, who also served as operations chief with the Russian River District.

As for any future joint chief arrangement supervising two districts, “I think that’s over,” said Baxman.

The Forestville Fire Protection District’s Assistant Chief, Dave Franceschi, will serve as Forestville’s interim chief.

Although Forestville firefighters supported Ming and the shared chief arrangement in 2013, Russian River directors do not foresee a repeat of the 2013 protest.

“Do you see anyone putting [protest] signs out?” said Baxman.

(5) comments


What many do not understand with this sort of thing is that Personnel issues CANNOT be discussed with the community! Everyone might want to know, they feel they should be told, they just think it is all shenanigans etc.- In Fact! The Fire Districts by law cannot discuss Personnel Matters with anyone but the person affected! Even other employees are not told anything! This goes for all manner of employee related issues! Quit asking, they won't tell you - in Fact THEY CANNOT tell you and if they do they are violating the law! Folks just don't want to hear this, I know!


since my recall I have continued to attend the meetings, 2nd Weds of every month, funny I don’t see anyone else there. Lots of answers if you bother showing up.


As a forestvillian i was interested in what the hell is going on and why it is that all of a sudden Ming is out on his ear again , This time as a resignation. Yet this article tells me absolutely nothing about why this is coming to pass. Considering his sizable salary one has to assume the worst. Did he sexually harass the secretary, did he steal from the dept., was he having an affair with one of the other fire fighters, or was he found out to be a Russian spy? Ridiculous that our little town would not be able to own up to the why's and wherefores of this issue . It should. I should do it right now.


I agree. It is time to pull back the curtain and reveal the wizards. Unfortunately this is about our Fire Department, which should have no wizards, only dedicated professionals.


Ok so here we go again with the cryptic comments and closed door shenanigans with our local fire department employees and board members.
Even the direct and usually frank Steve Baxman is only offering a snippet of his thoughts.
What goes on with our fire district employees anyway? Is the fire department malfunction a by-product of BOS tomfoolery or are our local employees the source of weirdness?
Am I the only one who was curious then and still curious now? We give those departments a lot of money and yet one must wonder where it goes. Yes we all already know the funds received by the fire department are NEVER enough, that is acknowledged. And yet when I see Ming walk away from $165K plus benefits one must ask WHY? What malfunction or dysfunction is serious enough to have caused the ruckus in the first place?
Thanks to SonomaWest for providing real news to the West County. Would love to see more about the fire department as it is the single most impactful agency along with the Sheriff and we need to stay informed.

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