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Metro Fire chief to retire; internal search launched for successor

Kurt Henke, chief of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, informed the district’s board of directors Thursday that he plans to retire in October after 33 years with the fire service.

The board then approved the recommendation of its executive committee to conduct an internal search among the ranks of deputy chief to select the next fire chief, according to a district news release.

Henke joined the fire district in 2009 and has served as chief since 2011. He began his career in the fire service as a volunteer with the Napa County Fire Department in 1981. He joined the Vallejo Fire Department in 1985 and served as the assistant fire chief there from 1998 to 2009.

Grant Goold, vice president of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District board, praised Henke for his strong leadership during a period of transition.

“Chief Henke and his management team have assisted this board in enacting many innovative reforms to weather the worst impacts of the recession,” Goold said in a written statement. “While the steep decline in property tax revenue forced the closure of six engine companies, the reforms made to reduce our labor costs and long-term liabilities have allowed Metro Fire to emerge stronger in some respects than before the recession. Because there is more work to do to reduce costs and operate more efficiently, we will look for the next chief from the ranks of the deputy chief.”

Officials estimate that an internal search process will save the district $25,000 in fees to a recruitment consultant and shorten the process by four months.

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