done because they know the community and problem areas," he said. "We are
working together to make the transition as efficient as possible."
MacLeod fills a spot that's been vacant, in a sense, for three years
since Bill Edmundson stepped down for health reasons following a
difficult relationship with the Laguna Beach Firefighters Assn. Jim Reed
has served as interim Fire Department chief since August 1999.
MacLeod comes to the job from inside City Hall: right now he's deputy
city manager and director of administrative services. He will assume
duties as fire chief on July 1.
MacLeod started his career with the county assessor's office as an
auditor after he graduated from Cal Poly Pomona. He worked in various
administrative positions with the county until 1981 when he joined the
Orange County Fire Authority as a business manager.
While he was with the fire authority and working under Chief Larry
Holmes, the agency grew from providing service to nine contract cities to
the present total of 22.
"Chief Holmes was a very progressive chief who gave managers the
opportunity to rotate among the different departments," said MacLeod.
The exposure to the inner workings of the fire authority eventually
led him to a promotion to deputy fire chief in 1987.
In that position, MacLeod oversaw three division chiefs and a total of
60 stations. He managed field services as well as all emergency services
including medical, disaster, hazardous materials and fire.
In 1999 he retired from the Fire Authority.
After working with the City of Dana Point, MacLeod joined the Laguna
Beach City Manager's office in April 2001.
"I was attracted to the city because of its sense of purpose for what
it wants for its future," MacLeod said.
In February, when the recruitment process to find a permanent fire
chief began, MacLeod sat on the recruitment panel. But he was not
initially a candidate, said City Manager Ken Frank.
Then, after weighing MacLeod's 18 years of experience with the Fire
Authority against the three finalists, the panel offered him the
MacLeod, who will also be celebrating his 39th anniversary with his
wife Judy in July, said he is looking forward to facing the challenges
that are unique to the Laguna Beach Fire Department.
"Laguna Beach is like many small cities where they cannot afford
specialization," he said. "The personnel in this department are
generalists who have expertise in everything."
Citing the community's significant risks of wild land fire and
flooding, in addition to typical urban risks, one of the first steps
MacLeod plans to take is to ensure that the department is prepared to
meet potential emergencies. He also plans to establish a succession plan
and take steps toward lowering potential personnel turnover.
After working in an organization of about 18,000 personnel, MacLeod is
excited to tackle issues in a tightly knit department.
"With 36 firefighters, a department secretary and three battalion
chiefs, I can interact with personnel on a more personal basis," he said.
"Better communication leads to better results.'