Mayor names new San Diego fire chief

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SAN DIEGO - Mayor Kevin Faulconer Monday appointed Colin Stowell as chief of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

Stowell spent several decades in the department as a captain, battalion chief, deputy chief and assistant chief before leaving in 2016 to lead Heartland Fire & Rescue.

After a national search, it was decided a "familiar face" was best- suited to complement recent and planned infrastructure improvements across various department stations, Faulconer said.

"It's critical that we have the very best people at the most important positions to keep our neighborhoods safe," he said. "... I'm confident Chief Stowell is the right person to carry that vision forward."

The City Council is expected to hold Stowell's confirmation hearing later this month. If approved, he will likely start in mid-August.

A San Diego native, Stowell previously oversaw the Fire-Rescue Department's emergency operations division. He also spent time as the department's wellness officer, and he was in charge of training for medical services and special operations.

Stowell, who said returning is an honor,was introduced to a crowd as prospective chief in front of Fire Station 1, where he began his career with the department 30 years ago,

"The city leaders and elected officials of our city have demonstrated their strong advocacy for fire protection and public safety overall, and I feel very fortunate coming in as the next fire chief with such support and backing to ensure we have the necessary emergency resources to keep our communities and residents safe," he said.

Kevin Ester, formerly the department's assistant chief of business operations, has been serving as interim fire chief since April.

Ester had taken over for Brian Fennessy, who left the department to lead the Orange County Fire Authority.

This story is breaking news and will be updated.

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