Rachel Reeves

New Fire Chief to start Feb. 19

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Redondo's new Fire Chief Robert Metzger will see out the remainder of his contract with Golden Gate Fire Control and Rescue. Photo supplied

Redondo’s new Fire Chief Robert Metzger will see out the remainder of his contract with Golden Gate Fire Control and Rescue. Photo supplied

City Manager Bill Workman is confident that from Feb. 19, the Redondo Beach Fire Department and the Redondo Beach Harbor will be in another pair of good hands.

Former Fire Chief Dan Madrigal retired late last year, and his replacement – who is currently overseeing 19 acres of territory and about 70 employees – moves across the country next month to settle into the twin posts of Fire Chief and Harbor Master.

Workman chose Golden Gate Fire Control and Rescue Chief Robert Metzger, 57, from a pool of 48 candidates who applied as part of a nationwide recruitment drive. No local firefighters applied for the job.

“We hired the best candidate in a nationwide recruitment,” Workman wrote in an email to Easy Reader. “There were no inside Redondo FD [Fire Department] candidates who applied.”

Workman flew to Florida to do background checks and interviews with references, which he says “all came out excellent.” Metzger also spent several days in Redondo Beach getting to know its Fire Department. Workman was impressed by what he saw.

“Bob Metzger has the expertise, character and experience to be very successful as our next Fire Chief,” he wrote.

Metzger has been head of Golden Gate Fire Control and Rescue for five years. Prior to taking his current job, he served the city of Toledo, Ohio as its deputy fire chief. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Safety and Engineering and a Master of Public Administration and is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy.

Redondo’s new fire chief is also the immediate past president of the Collier County Fire Chiefs’ Association and sits on the Board of Directors for the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce. He has served on the EMS Policy Advisory Board for Collier County and on the Board for the Safe and Healthy Children’s Coalition.

Responding to concerns raised by several readers about an online Naples News item detailing a spat between Metzger and the fire union, Workman said he was pleased with the way his new hire resolved the dispute.

“His work in Golden Gate, Florida and Toledo, Ohio was carried out with exemplary leadership and the highest level of ethics, especially in resolving hard fire department personnel issues and in handling labor relations as the Golden Gate Fire District’s management negotiator with their labor union,” Workman wrote.

In a phone interview, Metzger said labor management relations can “run hot and cold,” but says he has always made it a priority to resolve disagreements.

“I’ve always used as a barometer for overall labor management how many outstanding unresolved grievances or unfair labor practices there are. We have none. We have ultimately resolved everything and continue to do so,” Metzger said.

Metzger looks forward to the cross-country move he and his wife will be making for two main reasons: The weather is warm, and three of their four sons live in California.

He is “excited” to take on the additional role of Harbor Master, a position he has never occupied despite his extensive experience with water rescue.

The new job, Metzger says, will be a challenge he looks forward to meeting head-on.

He anticipates the Redondo Beach context being “substantially different in some very interesting ways.”

“I’m counting on that difference to continue to keep me excited and engaged with the fire service,” he said.

Redondo Beach is a municipality, while his current area of responsibility is an individual district covering 103 square miles. Redondo Beach is much smaller geographically, but populated much more densely.

Metzger is confident that he has the practical experience and the background knowledge to adapt seamlessly. His 45-day notice is up on Feb. 10, and he is expected to begin his new job nine days later. ER

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