Rancho Santa Fe Fire District to hire its own deputy chief


By Karen Billing

The Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District will soon have its own deputy chief, a position it once shared with a joint contract between the cities of Encinitas, Del Mar and Solana Beach.

RSF Fire Chief Tony Michel sent a notice of the district’s decision to terminate the contract for the deputy chief on March 25 and it will become effective on June 30. In response, the three coastal city managers of Del Mar, Encinitas and Solana Beach will no longer contract for the position of shift battalion chief and battalion chief training officer from Rancho Santa Fe.

“There are no hard feelings at all,” said Michel, noting that the change in the contract is just a way at making sure the needs of the district are met in the best way possible.

The districts will still continue their cooperative partnership — the four agencies will continue to respond to calls jointly, go through training together, loan equipment and provide personnel at the lower ranks.

“If anything, this will improve the level of service here because we’ll have a full-time deputy chief in Rancho Santa Fe,” Michel said. “This is just to make sure our organization and operations run smoothly.”

Michel said the shared deputy chief contract was a way to see if the districts could save money and keep the same level of service without duplicating efforts.

“We tried it for awhile with not having a deputy chief and we realized that we did not see a savings in the duplication of efforts,” Michel said, noting the shared deputy chief ended up having to do things four different ways for the four different agencies.

Additionally, Michel said RSF needed to make sure they had people in place internally for future needs.

“This was not an easy decision for the fire district to make, however, this decision is based on the fire district’s succession needs for the future,” Michel said. “We want to make sure the district is ready and prepared to fill spots in the future.”

Michel said testing will begin this month to find RSF’s new deputy chief; four out of its five battalion chiefs will be testing for the position.