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What do you see in a fire chief? City of San Diego seeks community input

Posted at 8:22 AM, Apr 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-03 11:22:18-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A nationwide search is underway to find the City of San Diego’s next chief to replace the retiring Fire-Rescue Department Chief Colin Stowell.

On Wednesday, the city is hosting the first of two community meetings for San Diego residents to provide their thoughts and suggestions on the next SDFD chief.

The first meeting on Wednesday, April 3, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center (6401 Skyline Drive) from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.

The second and last meeting will be Thursday, April 4, at the Kearny Mesa Recreational Center (3170 Armstrong Street) from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.

If one cannot attend one of the two community meetings, they can still fill out a survey the city has online at

ABC 10News spoke to some residents about their thoughts on what qualities and characteristics a fire chief should possess.

Jacob Cummins, a Mission Beach resident said, "I would say somebody that's very well experienced. Somebody that be willing to go beyond their measure to make sure that we're safe and respond to any situation that needs to be taken care of or fire needs to be put out."

Earl Nattrass, a retired firefighter, shared the benefits of this nationwide search.

"Having a chief that comes from the ranks is pretty positive in my opinion, because they know everybody and they know the business," Nattrass said. "I shouldn't rule out someone from a different area, because sometimes they get so embroiled in the way things are they start slacking on innovation. Looking at more distant areas to bring new ideas is a great idea."

The city is hoping to choose a chief by June.