Farmersville names new fire chief
City Council names Farmersville resident Douglas Stewart as volunteer chief of the Farmersville Fire Department
By Crystal Havner
Reporting for The Sun-Gazette
FARMERSVILLE – Farmersville’s new fire chief has called the city his home for more than a decade.
At its July 22 meeting, the Farmersville City Council named Farmersville resident Douglas Stewart as its new volunteer fire chief.
“I am honored to serve the community I live in,” Stewart said.
Stewart has been with the Farmersville Fire Department since 2006, was promoted to lieutenant in 2006, a captain in 2016 and assistant chief in 2018. Stewart has also graduated from the California Highway Patrol Academy. He is an Emergency Medical Technician and State Board Certified training officer. Stewart said he was looking forward to keeping the “forward momentum” going for the department.
“He will be a solid addition and I consider him a good friend,” said Police Chief Mario Krstic.
Hiring a volunteer chief was the final step in reorganizing the department following the expiration of grant funding for two positions. At its June 24 meeting, the Farmersville City Council approved the City’s 2019-20 fiscal year budget cutting the fire chief position. Chief and lieutenant positions were created and sustained through the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant through FEMA. The City was awarded two, three-year grants beginning in 2014 when it hired former Tulare County Division Chief John Crivello to be the first chief since the city incorporated in 1960. The grant, which expired last month, left a $250,000 hole to fill in the fire department’s 2019-20 budget, which represents about 12% of the city’s general fund.
The elimination of the chief position will save the fire department $160,000 in salary and benefits. Crivello’s last day as chief was June 25. The fallout from Crivello’s departure continued with the resignation of Capt. Jim Thomas resigned and the end of Lt. Brian Kyle’s tenure after two years on medical leave. On July 8, Lt. Brandon Saefong was promoted to captain to replace Thomas and Kyle’s position was filled by Lt. Brannon Parish. Brendan Diaz was promoted to provisional fire engineer on July 22.
“He has a passion for the job and this is a provisional position at the moment but we hope it becomes permanent,” Krstic said about Diaz.
In Other News
Farmersville Unified School District Trustee Alice Lopez addressed the council concerning mosquitoes during public comment at the July 22 meeting. Lopez said she has seen an increase in the flying pest and asked if anything could be done. She said she wanted to spend some time on the porch in the evening but the mosquitoes are making it impossible.
“They just realty seem more aggressive this year,” she said.
City mayor Greg Gomez, who is also the president of the Delta Vector Control District Board which regulates the mosquito problem, said the mosquito abatement district would only fog pesticides for mosquitoes in areas where dead birds and animals have tested positive for West Nile Virus.
“The chemicals are just too expensive,” Gomez said, “but people should be using preventative measures, such as making sure there is no pooled water and having pools serviced.”