New division chief joins fire district

14-year tenure in Colorado showed public service and controversy

A former Oakland firefighter who left for Colorado has returned to California as the new operations division chief for the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.

Manuel "Manny" Navarro, 65, will supervise the day-to-day operations of the district's seven fire stations and 100 emergency personnel, Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.

"We're happy to have Manny back in California and honored to have him as part of our team," Chief Schapelhouman said in a statement. "His extensive experience, command presence, tactical abilities and people skills will be an asset to our community. He always places the community first and has a deep respect for our profession and firefighters."

The district serves Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto, and portions of unincorporated San Mateo County.

Mr. Navarro's experience includes managing rescue operations during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the Highway 880 freeway collapse, and the Oakland Hills fire in 1991, the district said.

After leaving Oakland in 1994 he was hired as the fire chief for the Colorado Springs Fire Department, where he supervised 20 fire stations, 27 fire companies, two trauma units, 508 personnel and an annual budget of $53 million.

The Colorado Springs Gazette in June 2008 wrote an article about Mr. Navarro's planned retirement.

According to the newspaper, while the fire chief was hailed for his public service, his 14-year tenure with the department also saw controversy – at one point the city manager suspended him for one week for violating city policy by allowing his name and title to appear on a flier endorsing a commission candidate.

At other points during his service, the newspaper wrote, Mr. Navarro issued a gag order against his firefighters publicly criticizing policy decisions, which was rescinded after the ACLU sued, and also endured criticism in 2007 for driving fire vehicles to golf courses and possibly playing golf while on duty.

Mr. Navarro was not immediately available for comment.


Like this comment
Posted by w patterson
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 3, 2012 at 10:35 am

Please promote from within your ranks. A 65 year old retired fire fighter should remain retired and allow others to succeed.
A disappointing choice.

1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 3, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The position was open to internal candidates. Navarro was the best candidate - would you have the District choose someone less qualified?

Like this comment
Posted by Phoenix
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Mr Navarro was part of the infamous Oakland fire department leadership that, in 1991, refused to fight the hillside fires. Oakland fire trucks parked in safety and watched homes burn for ten hours - at first, residents drove to their threatened homes to salvage pets and valuables but the FD put a stop to that as well. It was all on TV, three channels, all day Sunday October 20, 1991. In fact it was on national TV.

And thats why fire departments across America have never stopped re-telling September 11, 2001 - the day that dozens of firefighters (and over two thousand office workers, who were told not to use the four stairways so firefighters could use them) died and became heros, erasing the infamy of 1991.

Welcome back, Mr Navarro.

1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 7, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

There are NO facts to support the serious allegations made by anonymous phoenix about a superb professional firefighter.


Web Link

Web Link

"Very suddenly, the fire flared up in an unburned area on the lower east flank of the burn area. Burning embers had been carried from one of the hot spots into a patch of timber dry brush. At 1058 hours, E19 called for a “full box alarm” to respond to Gwin Tank. Oakland Fire Communications dispatched E24, E28, and BC2 to assist E19. Engine 4, which was assigned to hill patrol, also responded.
One minute later, Engine 19 requested CDF assistance and, at 1102 hours, requested a second alarm and police assistance for traffic and crowd control. The second alarm units were directed to respond to 7140 Marlborough Terrace, at the top of the hill. At 1104 hours, the assistant chief, who could see the smoke from several miles away, called for a third alarm and also directed Oakland Fire Communications to request mutual aid from CDF. He specified to advise CDF that this was “another
fire in the Threat Zone.”

Hardly refusing to fight this fire !!!

1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 7, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Phoenix meet Pecksniff -" An unctuous hypocrite, a person who affects benevolence or pretends to have high moral principles; (also) a person who interferes officiously in the business of others"

1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 7, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

More facts:

"Situation Status at 1130 Hours
Fire: Left flank involving structures on Buckingham and Westmoorland, threatening Marlborough Terrace above. Right flank rapidly approaching homes on Grizzly Peak Terrace, Bay Forest Road, and Tunnel Road. Fire threatening to top hill and spread into Contra Costa County.

Resources: ALL AVAILABLE OAKLAND RESOURCES COMMITTED OR EN ROUTE. CDF units en route. Mutual aid being requested from Contra Costa County and North Zone of Alameda County.

Strategy: Companies on left flank retreating, attempting to evacuate immediately threatened areas. Probably cannot stop fire until resources can be assembled to make a stand ahead of the fire. Companies on right flank trying to assemble adequate resources before the fire reaches structures."

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