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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Division Chief Brett Eldridge Retires

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

After 28 years with the Santee Fire Department, Division Chief Brett Eldridge is hanging up his helmet.

For the past four years, he’s done a variety of crucial tasks, including serving as the city’s fire marshal and grooming the department’s top talent to become the next generation of fire captains.

‘It’s been very gratifying to work on the organization’s future leaders and to mentor employees as they move up the ranks,” he said. “It’s been very rewarding because every time you teach you also learn.”

As fire marshal, Eldridge was responsible for reviewing development permits to ensure they complied with fire codes. He also reviewed special event permits to make sure the public was protected.

His last day on the job is Friday, Sept. 16.

Co-workers describe him as an easy-going manager with a dry sense of humor, and a strategic thinker with a knack for analyzing ways to reduce the city’s liability exposure.

“I will miss his sense of humor, big smile and calm demeanor,” said Fire Chief Robert Leigh.  “Additionally, he always provided input that demonstrated an organizational perspective.”

Eldridge entered the fire service in 1983 under a four-year apprentice program. Six years into the job, he was promoted and selected to attend paramedic school at the University of California at San Diego. During his 12 years as a firefighter/paramedic, he handled every type of emergency from traffic accidents to heart attacks.

Over the years, he earned an associate’s degree in fire technology from Miramar College and a bachelor’s degree in vocational arts and occupational studies from Long Beach State University.

He was promoted to captain in August 2001, and devoted much of his talents to maintaining and elevating the city’s paramedic services. During his tenure as captain, he developed the department’s first confined space and trench rescue program in conjunction with the Padre Dam Municipal Water District.

In 2006, he was elevated to division chief for emergency medical services and was named the city’s fire marshal.

His plans for the future are open-ended: a brief vacation followed by contemplation.

“My wife and I are going to Hawaii for 10 days,” he said. “After that, I have no plans. I want to evaluate where I’m at and see what I want to do next.”

Eldridge, who likes to hike and fish, said he would like to spend at least part of his retirement traveling to historic sites in the United States.

Off-duty, he’s reportedly a highly skilled poker player who has competed in tournaments. So obviously, he knows when it’s time to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.

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