City Council confirms mayor’s choice for fire chief

The City Council on Monday unanimously confirmed the appointment of Javier Mainar as the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department’s next chief.

Mainar, who is currently the assistant fire chief, was chosen by Mayor Jerry Sanders after a national search to replace Tracy Jarman, who retired several months ago.

Mainar, who turns 52 on Wednesday, has worked for the Fire Department for more than 29 years, rising through the ranks as a captain, battalion chief and division chief before being promoted to assistant fire chief in 2006.

He was the department’s incident commander during the 2007 wildfires.

Sanders touted Mainar’s “long and distinguished career” with the department.

“I simply can’t imagine a better person taking the helm at this critical time,” Sanders told the City Council.

“His performance on the front lines have earned him the respect of the firefighters who routinely put their lives on the line to keep San Diegans safe,” the mayor said.

Mainar said he was “very humbled” to be selected as the SDFRD’s 16th chief.

“I commit myself, first and foremost, to making sure the community is protected to the best degree we can with all of the resources we are provided,’' he said after being sworn in.

Mainar emerged first from a pool of more than 40 candidates for the job.

He takes over at a time when the department is facing potential cuts resulting from the city’s projected $179 million budget deficit for the fiscal year that will begin July 1.

Sanders has already canceled future police and fire academies that train recruits.

Mainar acknowledged that his biggest challenge will be dealing with San Diego’s massive spending shortfall without adversely impacting public safety.

He testified that his department has already been asked to look at cutting $34

million from its $200 million budget next fiscal year.

“Quite frankly, to get to the kinds of targets we are looking at, we may for the first time in our history, have to consider adversely affecting our fire station staffing,’' Mainar told the City Council.

Jarman retired in June after 25 years with the city.

Mainar’s salary will be $166,000 annually. The salary will match Jarman’s.