Santa Monica : New Fire Chief Named


Glendale Fire Chief John Montenero has been named new chief of the 122-member Santa Monica Fire Department.

Montenero’s selection, announced by Santa Monica City Manager John Jalili on Tuesday, ends a nationwide search to fill the post, which pays $96,793 a year. Former Chief Thomas Tolman retired last month.

The 51-year-old Montenero is a San Francisco native who has served as fire chief in Corte Madera and Monterey before taking over the Glendale department 6 1/2 years ago.


Montenero was criticized by angry Glendale residents after the disastrous College Hills fire in June, 1990, that destroyed or damaged 52 houses and caused about $19 million in damage.

Residents of one canyon charged that the Fire Department sacrificed their neighborhood by allowing houses to burn for up to two hours before firefighters were sent. Protesters last November urged the Glendale City Council to oust the chief.

However, Montenero defended his department’s response to the blaze, saying it was necessary to concentrate firefighting efforts in another neighborhood to keep it from burning into Pasadena. He said the strategy helped save more than 700 houses.

Glendale City Council members said they supported Montenero’s action.

Jalili said he was aware of the controversy and, after investigating it, concluded he had “absolutely no concern” about Montenero’s actions.