It is still not clear why CAL FIRE Chief was removed from position

CAL FIRE Chief John Hawkins
Chief John Hawkins speaking at the Wildland Fire Safety Summit in Pasadena, April, 2006. IAWF photo by Bill Gabbert.

Friday of last week news broke that John Hawkins, the longtime chief of the CAL FIRE Riverside Unit and Riverside County Fire Department, was suddenly removed from his position. There was no immediate permanent successor identified and he is being temporarily replaced by Deputy Chief Dan Talbot. Chief Hawkins’ firefighting career has spanned 54 years and he had been in his County Chief position for 12 years.

The local newspaper, the Press-Enterprise, published a story late Tuesday afternoon providing a little more information, reporting that it was a CAL FIRE decision, and not a move by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors:

“CAL FIRE made the decision that it was time for new leadership,” said [County Supervisor Kevin] Jeffries, a former volunteer fire captain. “There was no scandalous events that occurred, nothing exciting like that. It was just a leadership change that CAL FIRE felt was important and we were kind of kept in the loop a little bit. But it was a decision of CAL FIRE.”

Chief Hawkins was not only the Chief of the CAL FIRE units in Riverside County protecting state responsibility areas in the Southern California County, but he also supervised the CAL FIRE resources that provide services under contract to Riverside County, which is the 4th-most populous county in California and the 11th-most populous in the United States.

CAL FIRE Riverside County Chief removed from position

Above: Chief John Hawkins speaking at the 9th IAWF Wildland Fire Safety Summit in Pasadena, April, 2006. IAWF photo by Bill Gabbert.

(Originally published at 12:05 p.m. MST January 20, 2018)

John R. Hawkins, the longtime chief of the CAL FIRE Riverside Unit and Riverside County Fire Department was suddenly removed from his position Friday. Chief Hawkins’ firefighting career has spanned 54 years and he had been in his County Chief position for 12 years.

Replacing him temporarily is Deputy Chief Dan Talbot.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the Idyllwild Town Crier:

“All I have right now is Chief Hawkins is no longer the fire chief and the department has put an intern chief in as of now. Chief Hawkins is still an employee and that’s all I have as is now,” said CAL FIRE Chief Mike Mohler of the Southern Region Communications for CAL FIRE’s South Ops.

Chief Hawkins was the CAL FIRE Incident Commander for the 2003 Cedar Fire that burned 273,000 acres in San Diego County. He is beloved by many and is a very dynamic speaker sought after for conferences and training.

CAL FIRE Chief John Hawkins
Chief John Hawkins speaking at the Wildland Fire Safety Summit in Pasadena, April, 2006. IAWF photo by Bill Gabbert.