One fire chief for H.B., Fountain Valley?

Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach may soon share a fire chief.

Huntington Beach City Manager Fred Wilson said he's had preliminary discussions with his counterpart in Fountain Valley about giving Huntington's fire chief, Patrick McIntosh, the task of managing both departments.

Fountain Valley Fire Chief Bill Walker left recently to serve in Alhambra. Former Laguna Beach Fire Chief Mike Macey replaced Walker in the interim.

"It will be a challenge for our fire chief to manage both organizations," Wilson said. "But I'm fairly confident he can make it work."

If the deal worked, it would be a win-win situation for both cities, Wilson said. Huntington Beach would gain revenue from providing the service, and Fountain Valley would save money by cutting costs.

"If we can do this, we can help our budget," Wilson said. "That's primarily why we're doing this."

Fountain Valley Personnel Manager Jean Hirai said the city manager will not likely make a decision until fall.

"There are a couple of options that we're looking at, but we have not made a decision yet," Hirai said.

Both cities already work together. They share a dispatch call center in partnership with five other cities and share a training center in Huntington Beach, McIntosh said.

"We've only had very preliminary discussions, so there's been no talk about exactly what services they're looking to potentially share," he said.

But if it's doable, Huntington Beach would be happy to provide Fountain Valley with any services it might need, McIntosh said.

Walker left in May after serving as fire chief in Fountain Valley for four years, ending a 15-year tenure with the city. He said he's not aware of the details, but sharing Huntington's fire chief could work if the departments were combined in a model similar to the cities of Fullerton and Brea.

"It just depends on how you try to set it up," he said. "The issue is combining not just the fire chief, but all of the command staff, the whole administration, and if that's something they feel like they can do, then it's fine."

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