Fire Chief Keith Richter will step down as head of the Orange County Fire Authority, a decision that comes on the heels of an audit that found low morale and a sense of favoritism and lack of leadership among the rank and file of the county’s largest fire department. Richter made the announcement to his executive team in a Tuesday morning meeting, and sent a departmental memo in the afternoon announcing his decision to retire, stating he would be stepping aside because “recent controversies have placed me in a position of being a distraction.”
Our previous coverage of Richter and the OCFA is here. It’s obvious that the Fire Authority needs a COMPLETE OVERHAUL. Their recent Audit (as covered by the union-funded Voice of OC : ‘Accountability Lacking at All Levels’ of Fire Authority) suggests there are long-standing, deep problems with this far-too-expensive county Agency. Its Board will be responsible for Richter’s replacement, which should NOT occur from its union or management ranks.
In fact, this may be time to re-charter the organization and completely change the composition of its overly large Board. Perhaps it should consist of only ordinary citizen taxpayers elected from their contract cities and areas of the county which it serves (as we’ve also suggested for the OC Transportation Authority, and as we do for School Boards). Clearly, the current, 25-member Board of resume builders has allowed the Agency to run amok and can no longer be trusted to manage this endeavor and approve its spending. The Agency’s salaries and pensions are clearly out of control, and their union has the upper hand. It’s time for a BIG change.