BROOKSVILLE - Mike Rampino will resign his position as Hernando County Director of Public Safety effective March 7 and will take the job as fire chief of the North River Fire District in Manatee County.
Rampino said Wednesday he is going to a fire department that is growing and is looking forward to the challenge of guiding it along. North River has five stations and 60 employees, compared to Hernando County's 14 stations and 240 employees.
"It's a good career move at this time," Rampino said.
Rampino said the decision was not made lightly and he will miss the employees and friends he's made here through the years.
County Administrator Len Sossamon said Deputy Fire Chief Mike Nickerson will serve as interim fire chief until a new chief is hired.
Rampino joined the Spring Hill Fire Rescue District in 1988 and became a Hernando County employee in October 2011.
"(Rampino's) a nice guy," Sossamon said. "I think he ran a pretty good ship and I wish him well in his next endeavor."
In January 2013, Sossamon appointed Rampino the county's public safety director, which included heading up the animal services department.
That occurred only one month after county commissioners approved the merger of the Spring Hill Fire and Rescue Department into the Hernando County Fire Department.
The board simultaneously recreated the position of Director of Public Safety to oversee the consolidated department.
In his retirement letter to Sossamon, Rampino said his decision was not easy.
"I have had a great time working hand-in-hand with the finest firefighters and paramedics/EMTs in the area, as well as the staff at animal services," Rampino wrote.
In a separate memo to Sossamon, Rampino said he appreciated the opportunity he and the commissioners extended to him.
"More so, I truly enjoyed working for both you and (Assistant County Administrator Brian Malmberg)," Rampino wrote. "You're both top-notch people. You have a fantastic staff full of hard-working people."
Rampino said he will spend his remaining time assisting in any transitional planning.
Rampino makes $100,890 annually. He will receive a $21,765 cash-out from Hernando County. The county will advertise the position in-house and externally.
Nickerson said he has not decided yet if he will vie for the fire chief position.
"I'll do whatever the county needs me to do to serve the citizens of Hernando County," Nickerson said.