Paul Riddle, a 24-year veteran of the South Pasadena Fire Department, became the city’s newest fire chief.
Riddle’s promotion from deputy chief comes at a time when a tri-city agreement, which called for one fire chief to govern over three cities, including South Pasadena, San Marino and San Gabriel, officially ended last Friday.
The City of South Pasadena has now entered into a two-city agreement for fire services with the City of San Marino. While Riddle will oversee the South Pasadena Fire Department, Mario Rueda becomes the fire chief for the City of San Marino. Rueda served as fire chief for the now defunct tri-city agreement, which began in 2014.
“It’s hard to point to one single reason why the tri-city agreement was unsuccessful,” said Riddle. “Very simply, it just didn’t meet the expectations of the three city managers in the three communities. Each of the three communities had separate identities and specific needs, and the tri-city agreement just failed to meet the initial expectations.”
Carefully analyzing the new two-city agreement, Riddle said his department “took the successes from it and we’re confident it will be much more effective. In our agreement with San Marino, we will continue to provide the highest level of customer service.”
Riddle has risen to the top of the South Pasadena Fire Department after beginning his career in the city at age 21 in 1992 as a volunteer auxiliary firefighter.
“I want to draw on the experience of the previous chiefs I’ve worked under,” said Riddle, looking at his personal goals for the new challenge. “Now the baton has been passed on to me. It’s an honor.”
With that honor, explained Riddle, comes “a lot of responsibility,” he said. “Small communities like South Pasadena are very fortunate to keep their own municipal fire departments. Sometimes financial constraints make that very difficult. Smaller cities often have to contract out for services with larger agencies like L.A. City.”
He will oversee a staff of 21 personnel, including two division chiefs, three captains, six engineers, nine firefighters/paramedics and one administrative aide. Riddle becomes the 17th fire chief in the 110-year history of the fire department.
“I will be overseeing all aspects of the F.D., including management of the budget and making sure we are fiscally responsible. We will continue to meet the needs of the community with quick responses,” he said.
Riddle resides in Murrieta with wife, Lynn. The couple have two daughters, Jessica, 22 and Janice, 19. Under the new agreement, San Marino and South Pasadena will share one division chief position.