Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2017

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San Jose, Calif., fire chief picked from more than 60 to head Las Vegas department

San Jose, Calif., Fire Chief William “Willie” McDonald has been chosen to take over Las Vegas Fire & Rescue, the city announced Thursday.

McDonald was chosen from a pool of more than 60 local and national candidates to head the Las Vegas fire department, which has 664 employees at 20 stations.

McDonald would be eligible for a base salary between $115,270 and $164,261.

He replaces Steve Smith, the former Clark County fire chief who had been leading the Las Vegas department on an interim basis since April. The city’s last permanent chief, Mike Myers, retired in February to move with his family to Chicago.

McDonald has spent 35 years as a firefighter and has served as a fire chief since 1993 at several stops, including Foster City, Calif., San Mateo, Calif., Fremont, Calif., and Scottsdale, Ariz.

He has served as chief of the San Jose fire department for the last two years.

“After a thorough search, I am happy to select Chief McDonald,” City Manager Betsy Fretwell said in a statement. “His experience serving in the capacity of fire chief for nearly 19 years, coupled with his educational background and extensive training knowledge, will make him a welcome addition to our team.”

McDonald’s appointment must still be ratified by the City Council, most likely at the July 10 meeting.

“I’m very happy to be joining the city of Las Vegas team led by City Manager Betsy Fretwell,” McDonald said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to advancing the work being done by the Las Vegas Fire Department in the field of pre-hospital emergency care, as well as continuing the department leadership to achieve service efficiencies through interagency collaborations.”

McDonald holds a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Fresno, and a master’s degree in business administration from California State University, Hayward. He has also completed programs at Harvard University and Arizona State University, in addition to graduating from the National Fire Academy’s executive fire officer’s program.

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