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HUNTINGTON BEACH : San Luis Obispo Man Backed for Fire Chief

City Administrator Michael T. Uberuaga said Friday he has recommended that the City Council hire San Luis Obispo Fire Chief Michael P. Dolder as the city’s top fire official.

Dolder, 46, San Luis Obispo’s fire chief for the last eight years, would succeed retiring Fire Chief Raymond C. Picard.

Dolder said that if he is hired, he would maintain residences in both San Luis Obispo and Huntington Beach. Because he has two daughters still in San Luis Obispo high schools, Dolder said, he plans to live in Huntington Beach during the week and return to his northern home on alternating weekends.

Those plans prompted a recent letter to Uberuaga from three Huntington Beach Firefighters Assn. captains, questioning Dolder’s commute.

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However, both Uberuaga and Dolder downplayed the letter.

“As long as he’s available by phone 24 hours a day and puts in 50 to 60 hours of work a week, I don’t think we could ask for anything more,” Uberuaga said.

Dolder said he could easily fulfill those obligations and that spending weekends out of town might pose a problem for a fire chief in a smaller city such as San Luis Obispo, “but it’s not an issue in a big place like Huntington Beach.”

Dolder “clearly stood out” among 60 candidates for the job, Uberuaga said.

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“His city manager said (Dolder) is widely considered one of the top 10 fire chiefs in the state,” even though he is from a relatively small city,” he said.

If Dolder is approved as the new chief, he will begin Jan. 28. His starting salary would be $89,000, Uberuaga said. After Picard retires Dec. 24, Fire Marshal James Vincent will serve as interim chief until the new boss takes over.

The council will consider the appointment and two others at a Dec. 17 meeting. Uberuaga has nominated Upland City Manager Ray Silver to become the city’s first assistant city administrator. Uberuaga’s choice for the city’s new community services director is Ronald E. Hagan, who has held that position in Fullerton for 11 years.

If Silver, 41, becomes the assistant city manager on Jan. 14, he will fill the $93,000-a-year job Uberuaga created to assist him in the day-to-day management of city business. The new post replaces one of the city’s four deputy city administrator positions, which has been vacant since Jim Palin retired.

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Hagan, 45, would begin Jan. 22 and receive a yearly salary of $89,000 in replacing Max Bowman, who retired this year as director of the community services department.


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