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Oakland Fire Chief Darin White is leaving his post to become the new fire chief in San Rafael, further thinning the city of Oakland’s leadership ranks.
White’s departure follows Mayor Libby Schaaf’s decision to fire Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick on Feb. 20 and City Administrator Sabrina Landreth’s announcement in December that she will leave her post on March 11.
White was a deputy fire chief when a fire at a music party struck the Ghost Ship warehouse on Dec. 2, 2016, killing 36 people.
The Oakland Fire Department and then-Fire Chief Teresa Deloach-Reed were heavily criticized for not investigating numerous complaints about the dangerous conditions at the warehouse.
Deloach-Reed went on leave shortly after the fire and ultimately retired in May 2017.
White, 52, became interim chief in early 2017 and was appointed permanent chief on Oct. 19, 2017.
At his swearing-in ceremony White said he wanted to restore the community’s trust in the Fire Department.
Serving was a ‘privilege’
White, who joined the department in 1998, said in a message to city employees, “As an Oakland native, it has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve the residents of my community alongside the dedicated men and women of the Oakland Fire Department over the last 22 years.”
White said, “While I have mixed emotions about leaving such a close-knit organization, I look forward to a new challenge that will further my growth and experience as a fire chief.”
He said, “I want to express my sincere gratitude to Mayor Schaaf and City Administrator Landreth for their unwavering support, past and present members of the City Council for their partnership in making the city safer.”
Schaaf said, “I wish Chief White all the best as he makes this transition from an incredible and decorated career serving Oakland to a new challenge in San Rafael.”
Schaaf said, “As a native Oaklander who rose through our ranks, he offered steady and thoughtful leadership with a unique understanding of our city. He has made Oakland safer and more resilient.”
Schaaf and Landreth said Deputy Fire Chief Melinda Drayton will take over as interim fire chief effective April 4.
‘Innovative, compassionate and genuine’
In San Rafael, White will take over the top post from interim fire chief Robert Sinnott, who was appointed to that role in December, when former chief Christopher Gray retired after 12 years. White will start his new job on April 15.
San Rafael City Manager Jim Schutz said, “With the threat of wildfire on everyone’s mind and a new public safety center nearing completion, this position is key for us as an organization and as a community. We were looking for someone innovative, compassionate, and genuine and we found him.”
Schutz said, “We’re thrilled to bring Darin on board here in San Rafael.”
In a statement issued by the city of San Rafael, White said, “Like the department that I come from, the members of the San Rafael and Marinwood fire departments are true professionals that are ingrained in their communities.”
White said, “I am excited to join Team San Rafael and to lead and work with the members of the San Rafael and Marinwood fire departments. I eagerly look forward to serving these communities.”
White’s starting salary in San Rafael will be $193,824 annually.