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Fire chief leaving Chula Vista command Robert Moreno | Sat, Aug 23 2014 12:00 PM

Chula Vista's fire chief is retiring Sept. 4 amid criticism from the firefighters union.

The Chula Vista firefighters union issued Fire Chief Dave Hanneman a vote of no confidence last December for what they said were “trust issues.”

According to a letter posted on the union’s website, Hanneman had agreed to resign if the union pulled a censorship letter that was going to be presented to the International Association of Firefighters delegate board.

“Thursday, July 11, I had a meeting with Fire Chief Dave Hanneman. During this meeting we discussed pulling the IAFF censorship resolutions if he would resign. He agreed late Sunday night and wanted something in writing from us,” John Hess, president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 2180, wrote to his union members.

But Hanneman said he had decided to retire before the agreement.

“I had already put in my retirement prior to that (agreement),” Hanneman said. “The union wanted to assure that I was going to be leaving, because of that they dropped their censure on me,” he said.

Hanneman said he had put in his retirement in early July and an agreement with the union happened on July 13.

Hess couldn’t comment on the agreement but said Hanneman’s retirement will move the department forward.

“I think this is best for everybody and I’m supporting it,” Hess said.

Hanneman is also named in a tort claim filed by Hess for denying him a promotion in retaliation for his actions in representing the city’s firefighters.

The fire chief was hired in 2008 and immediately had to cut 10 percent of the department’s budget as the city was in a $20 million deficit.

Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox said in a statement that despite the union’s lack of trust with the fire chief, she always supported him.

“I have had faith and confidence in Chief Hanneman as our fire chief,” the statement said. “I wish him well in retirement.”

Hanneman said his greatest accomplishment was the implementation of the advance life support program.

“We were the only city in the county that wasn’t providing advanced life support so that was a big deal.”

Other highlights include  Hanneman getting a fire facility master plan adopted by City Council and creating a firefighter wellness program.

Hanneman said with a new city manager intact and a mayor on her way out, the time is right for him to retire.

“I had other opportunities and there comes a time (to retire),” he said.

He will be teaching  fire courses at Idaho State University and at National University.

Hanneman said he left the department in better shape than it was in 2008 when he took over.

“The  city is offering a better level of service to our citizens  than  it was before.”

Hanneman had an annual salary of $180,597.30.

Anne Steinberger, marketing and communications manager for the city of Chula Vista, said that once Hanneman retires the plan is to have an interim fire chief for the time being.

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