Fresno's new fire chief ready for challenges

FRESNO, Calif.

Fresno is facing a tough budget situation, and even so, the new chief has high expectations for his department.

But all of that is on hold, at least temporarily, while he spends the next few months meeting his team.

"With a department this large I developed a matrix to see how long it will take me to get to each department and each shift. It'll take at least a month and a half," Chief Brown said.

Rob brown says the next month and a half is crucial. He wants to get to know the more than 300 firefighters in Fresno, visit the 24 different stations and meet the crews on every shift. He knows budget, pensions and furloughs are on everyone's minds.

"Even with an economic downturn, Fresno continued to grow, so the challenge is how do you continue to offer best in class services with an economic situation that doesn't allow additional resources," Chief Brown said.

Fire crews feel they've given up a lot. They're battling blazes and feel they have less equipment to draw from, yet citizens expect good response times.

"To lower our standards is really not an option. We want to make sure we keep those standards so we're going to have to find ways," Chief Brown said.

Which means he's facing a political battle in a city he's lived in for a day. A city that is facing a $15 million shortfall

"I'm sure there will be administrative brush fires I'll have to put out. We're in the thick of things as far as getting into the budget," Chief Brown said.

The city's budget for next year will be released in about two weeks.

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