Saying the city fire department has “a bright future,” Costa Mesa’s new fire chief officially started the job Tuesday.
After the city clerk swore him in, Dan Stefano told scores of relatives, firefighters and police officers gathered at City Hall that he was excited to begin.
Stefano, 45, comes to Costa Mesa from Laguna Beach, where he spent 18 years as a firefighter. Costa Mesa’s city CEO, Tom Hatch, picked him as chief.
Stefano joins a department in the midst of dramatic change. The City Council voted last year to dissolve the fire department and outsource protection to the Orange County Fire Authority.
The council later decided to keep its own fire department, but the city closed one fire station and is reducing the number of firefighters while adding ambulances.
Stefano is the first permanent fire chief since 2010. Deputy Chief Fred Seguin, the last of three men to serve as interim chief, said the three-year gap “seems like longer for us.”
Stefano isn’t new to Costa Mesa. He grew up in Newport Beach and went to Orange Coast College, and his wife teaches in Newport-Mesa schools. They live in Newport Heights.
Stefano said he doesn’t plan many immediate changes and will spend several weeks meeting with staff and visiting stations as he gets to know the department.
“There’s going to be some challenges ahead. There’s going to be some changes ahead,” he told the audience. “But we’re going to get through it.”
By ERIC HARTLEY / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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