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Santa Maria Fire Chief Dan Orr Leaving For Job in Washington

City expects to hire interim chief while seeking replacement for Orr, who has led the department for four years

Chief Dan Orr of the Santa Maria Fire Department announced he is leaving for a job in Washington.
Chief Dan Orr of the Santa Maria Fire Department announced he is leaving for a job in Washington. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

After leading the Santa Maria Fire Department for nearly four years, Chief Dan Orr is leaving for a new job in the Pacific Northwest.

Orr, 51, has led the department since December 2011 and notified city officials last week of his pending departure.

“It’s a new chapter,” he said.

On Dec. 1, he will become an assistant chief for Clallam County Fire District No. 3 on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula with the main town of Sequim, he said Monday.

“It’s a chance for me to work for a smaller organization,” he said, adding the staff includes paid and volunteer members. 

“(I am) just looking to go back to something that I’ve done before in the past and I have very fond memories of. I'm trying to finish up my career that way,” he said.

His last official day is Nov. 27. 

“This is all happening much quicker than what I had expected,” he said.

“This is not part of the plan. I did not expect to get a job offer as quick as I did.”

City Manager Rick Haydon said he is working diligently to hire an interim chief before Orr leaves. Staff also is preparing the job flier to advertise the fire chief opening.

Additionally, Haydon said he has suspended the recruitment for the vacant deputy fire chief job so the agency’s next leader can have a say in filling the No. 2 slot.

A new chief could be chosen by early 2016, Haydon said. 

Haydon had praise for Orr's leadership of the department.

“I think he’s done a tremendous job,” Haydon said. “He’s been a valuable asset to not only the city but especially in the community.”

Orr has a long-standing good reputation with nonprofits and faith-based groups who work with the city. 

“He’s always been the man behind the scenes making sure things work smoothly,” Haydon added.

Orr joined the Santa Maria department in January 2001, working initially as fire operation division chief for three years and then battalion chief for more than six years.

A graduate of California State University, Long Beach and a former Marine Corps reservist, Orr also is alumni of the Allan Hancock College Fire Academy. 

His fire career began with the Pismo Beach Fire Department where he rose through the ranks as a paid-call firefighter, engineer, captain, battalion chief and finally fire chief and emergency services coordinator.

He is active in the Fire Chiefs Association of Santa Barbara County, California Fire Chiefs Association, International Association of Fire Chiefs and Catholic Charities.

He is married and has two children in high school.

During his tenure, the agency built and opened two new fire stations and achieved a number of other goals.

“After being here for almost 15 years, my little fingerprints are kind of all over this place in some way, shape or form,” he said.

Over the past three-and-a-half years, the agency has hired 27 new members, he said. 

“This is a very good fire department and they do amazing work,” he said. “That’s truly the piece that I’m most proud of is the folks that work here.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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