After 30 years with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD), Lifeguard Chief Rick Wurts retired from the department Friday and an interim chief was named as his replacement.
Wurts worked in the SDFD's Lifeguard Division for three decades.
Throughout Wurts’ career, he has worked in operations, training, and promotional coordination. His leadership guided the San Diego Regional Aquatic Lifesaving Emergency Response Task Force (SDR ALERT) as both vice chair and chair.
"Chief Wurts has done a tremendous job, and we can’t thank him enough for keeping San Diegans and visitors safe for the past three decades," SDFD Chief Brian Fennessy said.
Wurts announced his retirement in February.
Chief Fennessy, similarly, announced he is stepping down as SDFD chief. He said he was only appointing an interim lifeguard chief at this time so that the next SDFD chief could appoint a permanent replacement.
"While his retirement has been in the works for a while, I’m also leaving soon and decided to make an interim appointment so the next Fire-Rescue Chief can make the final decision on who will lead the Lifeguard Division," Fennessy said.
Marine Safety Capt. James Gartland has been named as his interim replacement.
Interim Chief Gartland said he "could not be more honored or humbled," to take on this new responsibility.
Gartland is a member of the Type 3 San Diego All Hazards Incident Management Team.
He graduated from San Diego State University in business administration and accounting and went on to be a fiduciary and trustee of the San Diego City Employees Retiree Medical Trust.
Gartland, like Wurts, chaired SDR ALERT. He also chaired the Area Maritime Security Subcommittee on Preventative Radiological Nuclear Detection.
Through volunteer efforts, Gartland has worked with Clairemont Hilltoppers Little League and will continue to serve as the Vice President of Old Town Academy School Advisory Board. He has also served as an officer with the San Diego Lifesaving Association and the San Diego Association for Lifeguards.