Chief Thom Porter announced Monday that he is retiring from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection after leading the agency for the last three years.
Porter was appointed acting Director of the Department by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on December 14, 2018. Three weeks later he was named Director by Governor Gavin Newsom.
He first started with CAL FIRE in 1999 after working as a forester since 1992 with private industry in Washington, Oregon and in the Sierra Nevada. The positions he held with CAL FIRE included the San Diego Unit Fire Chief, Assistant Southern Region Chief, and Southern Region Chief before becoming Chief of Strategic Planning in Sacramento Headquarters January 1, 2018.
The Associated Press reports that Porter took the blame in June for Gov. Gavin Newsom overstating the amount of land that had been treated with prescribed burns and fuel breaks. Newsom said 90,000 acres had been treated, when Capitol Radio first reported that the actual number was 87% less. Porter said his Department had done a poor job educating the governor and the public about its efforts.
Porter’s last day is December 10, a CAL FIRE spokesperson said. The Governor has not announced a replacement.
Porter is a 5th generation San Diego native who married his high school sweetheart and life partner Rebecca. They enjoy spending time with their two sons and their partners, and three family dogs, all of whom live in California. He said he plans to return to San Diego to focus on his family and aging parents.