Two longtime employees of Laguna Beach’s fire department will leave next month, City Manager John Peitig announced.
Division chief and fire marshal Dan Stefano, who joined Laguna Beach as a reserve firefighter in 1995 and became a full time firefighter in 1997, will become fire chief for the city of Costa Mesa, effective Dec. 2. The city of 100,000 people maintains an 80-person fire department from three stations, but has been without a permanent fire chief for three years. As recently as last year, the city planned to outsource fire and medical services, but rescinded the layoffs with a new plan to cut costs, including closure of a station near South Coast Plaza, the Register reported in August.
Laguna’s fire engineer Knox Tiernan, plans to retire on Dec. 7, wrapping up 25 years of working for the city.
Fire Chief Jeff LaTendresse said that Tiernan’s position will be filled by a promotion from within the existing ranks of firefighters eligible for the position. Such a selection should be made by January, he said.
To replace the firefighter who moves up the ranks to Tiernan’s vacated engineer position, the department will recruit in January to select a candidate from a pool of 16 reserve firefighters.
As for hiring a division chief to replace Stefano, LaTendresse noted that as recently as January the department held an open recruitment to fill his own division chief post when he was selected to succeed the retiring former chief, Kris Head. Stefano also was in the running for the top job in Laguna’s 41-person department, which pays $187,100 a year.
Then, Api Weinert, who started his career as a reserve firefighter in 1988, was promoted to division chief. Since the list is still fairly current, LaTendresse said the department will determine over the next couple of weeks whether someone on it might be suitable to fill Stefano’s spot or if new recruitment is necessary.
—Andrea Adelson contributed to this story.