Thursday, March 27, 2008

Guadalupe's fire chief set to retire

After more than seven years heading up the Guadalupe Fire Department and nearly half a century in fire protection, Chief Carmon Johnson has decided it is time to move on.

Johnson submitted a letter to city administration last Friday stating his intent to retire effective Aug. 29.

“I have been doing this for almost 48 years and I am tired,” Johnson said Friday. “With the new captains, I wanted to transition out and go home and rest. That's the bottom line.”

The city has just created a third full-time fire captain position, and officials are now discussing how to cut costs in the department in order to cover the new position. Additionally, a vacant captain position was recently filled, so the department has two new captains.

“I came to Guadalupe because I love the community and I love the Fire Department,” Johnson said. “And I thought it would be interesting to do a few years to make a contribution. I didn't plan on staying as long as I did.”

Johnson noted he has already retired from two previous careers - he spent 23 years working with CalFire and 15 years with PG&E as fire marshal and fire chief at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.

In addition, he taught classes for six years at the Allan Hancock College Fire Academy.

The city intends to move quickly with recruitment for a new chief, said City Administrator Carolyn Galloway-Cooper.

“He will be difficult to replace,” she said. “He set the bar pretty high as far as knowledge.”

Mayor Lupe Alvarez echoed that sentiment, and added, “He advanced the Fire Department in many different areas.”

With a vacancy at the top, Alvarez said, it may be a good time for the city to look at how the department is structured. In light of current financial concerns, he said, noting that some positions may be good candidates for consolidation.

Source: santamariatimes.com

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