Under the experienced leadership of Interim Fire Chief Warren Hartley, a 30-year veteran and former Garden Grove fire chief, the Garden Grove Fire Department carries out the day-to-day operations needed to maintain the safety of the community and integrity of the department. Yet, key projects and developments, once led by the department’s former fire chief David Barlag, who resigned two months ago, have necessitated the City’s decision to retain the former chief’s services in a different capacity.
“Valuable experience that comes from 28 years in the fire profession isn’t something we want to waste,” says City Manager Matt Fertal. He adds, “Dave (Barlag) applied that experience to projects that would affect the future of the department. We want to see those projects continue to move forward.”
One important project is the Public Safety Master Plan that includes the construction of the new fire department headquarters on the former Black Angus site on Euclid Street. The Master Plan also involves the remodel of the current fire department headquarters as part of an expansion of the existing Police Administration building on Acacia Parkway.
Also under the Master Plan is the needed reconstruction of fire stations 6 and 7, on Chapman Avenue and Forsyth Lane, respectively. Originally built as single-family homes in the 1950’s, the stations are unable to house all the modern fire equipment needed.
Following Barlag’s resignation in September, the City agreed to the former chief’s continued employment as the City’s Public Safety Administrator. In this capacity, Barlag continues to oversee the progression of the Master Plan and other projects formerly under his guide, and serves as a resource to the City Manager on various public safety issues.
According to members of the Garden Grove City Council, despite Barlag’s challenges with the Fire labor group, his experience and know-how has inherent value to the City.
Council member Dina Nguyen said considering Barlag’s 28-year career with the city, the arrangement to retain the chief’s services would allow the City to “resolve concerns raised by the Fire union while keeping his expertise.”