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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Capt. Richard Smith Promoted to Division Chief

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Capt. Richard Smith, a 21-year veteran with the Santee Fire Department, has been promoted to division chief beginning Jan. 19.

He replaces former division chief Brett Eldridge, who retired in September 2011 after 28 years with the department.

The promotion means Smith will give up handling emergency calls and pulling overnight shifts at the fire station and settle into a regular work schedule at City Hall.

“I’m ready for one chapter to close and a new chapter to open,” said Smith, who has been a fire captain since 2003.

For the past seven years, Smith has served as one of three training officers responsible for conducting an in-house academy that trains newly hired fire fighters. He was also an arson investigator until the late 1990s, when that duty was turned over to the sheriff’s department.

Smith will assume fire marshal responsibilities in the near future and will oversee business inspections and new construction projects to ensure they comply with fire codes. He will also be responsible for reviewing special event permits, and he’ll coordinate the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, which conducts fire prevention inspections.

Fire Chief Robert Leigh said Smith “brings an organizational perspective with a willingness and desire to objectively evaluate new methods for providing service to the community.”

Before coming to Santee, Smith worked for a year as a reserve fire fighter for the San Miguel Fire Protection District and for 2.5 years as a bailiff for the county marshal’s office.

He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from San Diego State University and is a graduate of Valhalla High School.

Smith, 46, is married and has two school-aged daughters. In his off-duty hours, he enjoys mountain biking, off-road motorcycle riding and surfing.

For the past three years he has been a volunteer instructor training fire fighters in Tecate, Mexico for the nonprofit Firefighters Crossing Borders.

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