Burning issues face San Diego's new fire chief - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Burning issues face San Diego's new fire chief

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(CNS) - Assistant San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Chief Javier Mainar will move up to the top job, it was announced today.

Mayor Jerry Sanders formally announced the selection -- which followed a national search -- at a morning news conference at City Hall. The City Council could confirm the appointment as soon as next week.

"Quite simply, I can't imagine a better person taking charge at this critical moment," Sanders said. "His performance on the front lines has earned him the respect of the firefighters who routinely put their lives on the line to keep San Diegans safe."

Mainar, who turns 52 on Wednesday, has worked for the SDFRD for more than 29 years, rising through the ranks as a captain, battalion chief and division chief before being promoted to assistant fire chief in 2006.

He was the SDFRD's incident commander during the 2007 wildfires.

Tracy Jarman, who retired several months ago, had endorsed Mainar as her replacement.

Among the pool of more than 40 candidates Mainar beat out for the job were San Diego Deputy Fire Chief Brian Fennessy and former Cal Fire Director Ruben Grijalva, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

"I am deeply honored and humbled that I have been given the opportunity to serve as our city's 16th fire chief and vow to do all within my power to ensure our department continues to provide the high level of service that our community deserves," Mainar said.

Mainar takes over at a time when the department is facing potential cuts amid the city's projected $179 million budget deficit for the fiscal year that will begin July 1. Sanders has already canceled future police and fire academies that train recruits.

Mainar said the city's potential spending shortfall was "startling," and acknowledged that with more than 50 percent of San Diego's general fund budget going to public safety, the SDFRD won't be immune from cuts.

"We're certainly aware that we need to be part of the process of filing the budget gap we have," he said. "We consume a large portion of the general fund; it's only reasonable to expect we will assist in filing that gap."

Jarman retired in June after 25 years with the city. Jarman's annual salary was about $166,000. Mainar's salary will match Jarman's, according to Sanders.

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