After Eight Month Vacancy Munsey Succeeds Hartwig As County Fire Chief

After an eight month vacancy in the position of San Bernardino County fire chief, and ten months after the county’s last fire chief announced his intended departure from the post to take up the fire chief’s position in Santa Barbara County, the board of supervisors, in consultation with County Chief Executive Officer Gary McBride, reached a consensus on who is to fill the post.
On Wednesday, November 19, Assistant Chief Dan Munsey acceded to the department’s top rank. He succeeds former Chief Mike Hartwig, who departed earlier this year for Santa Barbara County and Deputy Fire Chief Don Trapp, who had served in an interim capacity since Hartwig left.
McBride’s office made an announcement of the appointment on the county’s website on Wednesday.
Munsey began with the county in 1995 as a paid call firefighter. Three years later he was hired into a full-time position with the department, and was assigned to Lake Arrowhead. He promoted to the rank of captain in 2004 and assistant chief in 2014.
While he was assistant chief, Munsey was responsible for rescue operations, fire and emergency medical response in the High Desert region, geographically the largest of the county’s five divisions.
The county fire department, also referred to as the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District, employs roughly 1,000 firefighters and office personnel. It is the primary firefighting and emergency medical service provider in 94 percent of the county’s geographical confines, or about 19,000 of the county’s 20,105 square miles. It serves more than 60 of the county’s unincorporated communities, as well as the cities of Adelanto, Fontana, Grand Terrace, Hesperia, Needles, San Bernardino, Twentynine Palms, Upland and the Town of Yucca Valley.
Munsey’s appointment concluded a nationwide recruiting effort that began shortly after Hartwig’s departure and yielded a broad field of applicants.
“There were several outstanding candidates,” McBride said, “but the board and I concluded that Assistant Chief Munsey offered the best combination of the traits we were seeking: the leadership skills and commitment to operate the county fire department effectively and professionally, and the ability and desire to work productively with public safety agencies throughout the county.”
“Being chosen to serve as fire chief for this organization is a tremendous honor,” Munsey said. “This is a team of highly skilled, dedicated professionals who serve a great community. I am excited about this opportunity to lead them and provide them with the tools and the environment they need to help County Fire fully achieve its great potential.”
Munsey holds a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis on business and government and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Grand Canyon University. Munsey is the current president of the operations section of the California Fire Chiefs Association and president of the Hi-Desert Water District Board of Directors. He has been active for a decade in the Rotary Club of San Bernardino, Victorville, and Yucca Valley.
In 2013, Munsey graduated from the San Bernardino County Management & Leadership Academy, a program that provides comprehensive management and leadership training to county employees. Participants gain theoretical and practical knowledge of public service management and leadership practices, with specific emphasis on understanding their application within San Bernardino County government.
In addition to the standard provision of fire suppression, emergency medical services and ambulance services which are the province of traditional fire departments, the San Bernardino County Fire Department functions as a community-based, all-hazard emergency services organization involved in emergency mitigation and management for hazardous materials response, arson investigation, hazard and terrorism/weapons of mass destruction abatement, and technical rescue, including water-borne, flooding and mudslide, and winter rescue operations.
The county fire department sustained considerable negative publicity during the last chapter of Hartwig’s stewardship of the agency, stemming from the county’s imposition of never-before-charged $154 annual assessments on the property owners of 94 percent of the county territory, intended to defray the cost of providing fire protection service. One of Hartwig’s last accomplishments as chief was to put that comprehensive assessment zone in place.

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