Friday, March 21, 2008

News: Corona Fire Department - Chief Mike Warren

CORONA - Corona Fire , a member of state and national emergency response groups, lightened his workload Tuesday when he said he would be retiring.

His last workday will be July 3. He will use his accrued annual leave before his retirement takes effect at the end of the year.

"I feel like I'm going out on top," Warren said. "It's been a great, great career. The last 14 years in Corona have been absolutely the best of my 36 years in the fire service. Professionally and personally, it's a good time."

Warren, 54, said he has recommended a replacement to Corona City Manager Beth Groves. She could not be reached for comment.

Warren said his family made a lot of sacrifices during his career and provided great support. Warren lives in Riverside with his wife, Jan. They have two sons, Cameron, 32, and Tom, 27.

When Warren moved from his job as a deputy chief with the California Department of Forestry to Corona, the Fire Department had five stations and 84 employees, none of them women, to serve a city of more than 88,000 people. Firefighters responded to about 4,400 calls to 911 during his first year.

He has guided the department's growth to keep pace with the city's population explosion to 153,000. The Fire Department now has 148 employees, including five women who are firefighters or investigators. The department answered 10,071 calls to 911 last year.

Corona Police Chief Richard Gonzales credited Warren for the development of the paramedic program in the city and the Fire Department's superb response to the midair plane collision that killed five people Jan. 20.

"That one incident encapsulates everything involving the leadership within the Fire Department," Gonzales said. "Mike didn't show up. Mike didn't have to. His guys knew exactly what to do."

Continuing Efforts

Warren will continue his work with the California Fire Chiefs Association. He will work with a program to improve emergency response throughout the United States organized after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Warren will remain Gov. Schwarzenegger's appointee to the state Emergency Council and will work on the state Terrorism Threat Assessment Advisory Group and the state Emergency Response Training Advisory Committee.

Warren has worked with emergency responders in Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and Tennessee. He made four trips to Tennessee last year. His work proved fruitful in the efficient way emergency personnel responded to tornadoes that hit the Southeast, including Jackson, Tenn., last month.

"He basically helped them put their plan in place," said Scott Creason, program manager for the International Association of Fire Chiefs about Warren's work in Tennessee. "They did not have a plan (for mutual aid) a year, a year and a half ago. They went from nothing to being one of the most robust states in the country."

Creason said Warren "is a mover and a shaker in the mutual-aid world. He is more involved than just his fire department. He wants to share his knowledge and expertise with other states."

'Second to None'

Dennis Wolf, fire chief in Germantown, Tenn., and president of his state's fire chiefs association, said in an e-mail that Warren helped the group formulate a preparedness plan for a 7.7 magnitude earthquake on the New Madrid fault.

"Kudos to Mike for helping us develop the plan," Wolf said.

Former Corona City Councilman Darrell Talbert said Warren has put Corona in the forefront of firefighting technology.

"He has built a department that is second to none," Talbert said. "His relations with the governor's office and his work within the state has kept Corona on the map and allowed us to make a valuable contribution to firefighting statewide."

Though he does not live in Corona, Warren has been a vital part of the community, said Bobby Spiegel, president of the Chamber of Commerce. Spiegel said attendance at the chamber's quarterly luncheons has grown because of Warren's organizational skills. Almost 400 attended the most recent lunch.


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