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San Diego fire chief announces retirement

May 27, 2009 |  5:20 pm

San Diego Fire Chief Tracy Jarman announced her retirement today after three years as chief and 25 years with the department.

Jarman, 53, was the first woman to become San Diego fire chief. She succeeded Jeff Bowman who resigned in frustration when his requests for additional personnel and equipment were largely ignored by the City Council.

Mayor Jerry Sanders said Jarman "is the consummate professional who has worked extremely hard to improve fire service."

The San Diego department has long had fewer firefighters, fewer stations and less advanced equipment than nearly all other big-city departments. While some improvements were made under Jarman's tenure, the gap between San Diego and other cities remains.

In 2003, when the Cedar wildfire destroyed 306 homes in the city, "after-action" investigations criticized the city's chronic underfunding of the fire department.

In 2006 when she was named chief, Jarman told reporters she had planned to retire at 50 but couldn't pass up the chance to be chief.

"This was not an easy decision," Jarman said in a statement announcing her retirement. "I genuinely love this department and the people I work with."

A national search will be launched to find a successor, the mayor announced. Jarman's final day on the job is set for June 27.

-- Tony Perry