BARSTOW Barstow Fire Protection District Chief Darrell Jauss announced his retirement Wednesday.

Jauss, who has worked for the fire district for 25 years, said he will retire April 1.

Jauss said he would miss going out on calls to help people, but felt it was time to try something new, even if he was not sure what that would be yet.

"It wasn't a decision that I took lightly," Jauss said, "but after 25 years of service, I felt it was time."

Jauss started working for the fire district as a volunteer in 1987. He was hired as a full-time firefighter two months later. He became interim chief in 2003 and was named fire chief in 2004.

Jauss presided over the fire district when it changed from an independent district to a subsidiary agency of the City of Barstow.

Jauss said the effort to integrate the fire district with the city was "challenging" but had been the right choice to improve public safety and maintain local control of fire services.

Jauss also made changes like increasing staffing at the West Main Street fire station from two to three firefighters, and oversaw purchases of two new fire engines in 2003. Jauss said the improvements had made the fire district more efficient and the community safer.

Assistant City Manager Oliver Chi said Jauss had been an essential part of the city's team during the integration process over the past year. Jauss was "the consummate professional," Chi said.

City Manager Curt Mitchell serves as the administrator of the fire district and is in the process of developing a plan for the transition, Chi said.

Chi said city staff will put together a recommendation on how to select Jauss' successor and will seek input from the Fire Protection Board, which oversees the district, and from the public.

A new chief should have "all my qualities," Jauss joked.

"Above all they have to be willing to put the community first at all times," Jauss said, "whether it benefits them personally or not, which is what I've always done. I think if they get somebody who's willing to do that, then they'll be okay."

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or spearson@desertdispatch.com