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.