Chief Paul Wilson leaves helm of the Sun Lakes Fire Department
Chief Paul Wilson, who has led the Sun Lakes Fire Department since July of 2007, has left his Arizona post for a new fire chief’s job in California.
Wilson, 60, has accepted the Chief of Department position with the Cathedral City Fire Department, a 20 square mile district with 52,000 residents.
This is Chief Wilson’s second chief’s job in California having previously served as the chief in Menlo Park.
“This is a great opportunity to work with a city manager that I know already from having worked in a similar capacity here in Arizona” Wilson said. He calls himself “…real fortunate to move through a career path that offered me the opportunity to help many fire departments.”
In addition to the previously mentioned time in Menlo Park, Wilson began his firematic career in the Mesa Fire Department where he worked his way up through the ranks to Assistant Chief.
But his accomplishments as Chief of the Sun Lakes Department leave mighty big firefighter’s boots to fill.
Financially, he has had balanced budgets and clean audits for eight consecutive years and procured federal and state along with various foundation grants and donations totaling over $1.3 million in those same eight years. He established that 7.5 percent of property taxes would be designated for reserve accounts and entered into purchasing agreements for reduced costs to Sun Lakes with the Arizona State Purchasing Cooperative and the Fire Government Purchasing Organization.
His fiscal accomplishments are made even more exceptional when you consider that during that same period one fire engine, two ambulances, one battalion chief vehicle, one brush truck, one community assistance vehicle and a support services unit were purchased.
The Sun Lakes Fire Department has acquired equipment such as an emergency generator, three power ambulance stretchers, five heart monitor/defibrillators, 17 SCBA’s (self contained breathing apparatus) along with a self contained breathing apparatus compressor/fill station. The SLFD also kept up with advances in fire suppression and emergency medical care with seven ePCR’s (electronic patient care reports) and four new thermal imagers.
From a human resources angle, Wilson negotiated five contracts with the SLFD firefighters union creating the first “memorandum of understanding” that establishes the negotiating. He implemented the deputy chief’s position and established the battalion safety and training officer, creating three new captain positions.
During his tenure he has promoted two members to battalion chief, seven to captain and two engineers; 11 paramedics and two fire investigators were trained and over that period 25 new employees were hired with 17 still members of the district.
“I have enjoyed great relationships with the Sun Lakes community as a whole; it has been a collaborative effort with everyone from the HOAs to the Women’s Association.” Wilson remarked, adding that he was “…proud of the men and women who work and volunteer for SLFD” saying that they exhibit a “…real passion to care for this community with everyone from the first responders to the volunteers of CAP (Community Assistance Program).
Chief Wilson and his wife Pam are the proud parents of a daughter and son who are both Mesa Police Department employees. They have three granddaughters. The Sun Lakes community will sorely miss the Wilsons.
Deputy Chief Dan Guerra named interim fire chief for Sun Lakes
Sun Lakes Fire Department Deputy Chief Dan Guerra was named by the Sun Lakes fire board to be the interim chief of the department while a search is made for a new permanent chief.
Chief Guerra has recused himself for any consideration to be the new permanent SLFD chief after Chief Paul Wilson’s departure because he has plans to retire from the fire service in 2016.
“I am proud to lead the Sun Lakes Fire Department even for a short time while a thorough and comprehensive search is made for a new chief,” Guerra said.
Guerra has served as the SLFD’s Deputy Chief of Operations for the last five years and prior to that was a Battalion Chief with the department.
As Deputy Chief he has managed all emergency personnel along with the management of the apparatus fleet in maintenance repairs, design and the ordering of new equipment and apparatus. In conjunction with the chief of department, Guerra also oversaw numerous capital improvement projects.
Chief Guerra also had a distinguished 20 year firematic career with the Tri-City fire district in Arizona where he served his last nine years there as an Assistant Chief. There too he served for a time as an interim chief due to injuries sustained by their chief of department in an auto accident.
Outgoing SLFD Chief Paul Wilson commented, “I have total confidence in Chief Guerra’s ability to continue the great work of this department. The Sun Lakes community will be in good hands.”