Long Beach fire chief to retire in October

DuRee, a fifth-generation City employee, served LBFD for 24 years

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Courtesy City of LB
Mike DuRee

Michael A. DuRee, a 24-year veteran of the Long Beach Fire Department, will retire as fire chief this October, according to city officials, who made the announcement Tuesday.

DuRee began his tenure in Long Beach in 1994 as a firefighter but worked through the ranks to become fire chief, a role in which he has served the last six years.

Born and raised in the city, DuRee, a fourth-generation Long Beach firefighter and a fifth-generation City employee, has served as: president of the Los Angeles Area Fire Chiefs Association, representing 31 fire departments throughout Los Angeles County; president of the California Fire Chiefs Association; and board member for the International Metro Chiefs Association.
In a statement Tuesday, Mayor Robert Garcia called DuRee an outstanding fire chief and a “great partner” in rebuilding the department.

“I first worked with Mike when he led the Firefighters Association,” Garcia said. “He did so with passion and a commitment to his membership. As fire chief, he has led the department with integrity and set policy that has reduced response times, modernized the department and expanded the number of firefighters on our force. He also honorably guided the department and city through the tragedy and loss of Captain David Rosa. For that and his service, we will be forever grateful.”

Long Beach City Manager Patrick West said the City team will miss DuRee tremendously.

“He is a popular figure throughout our city and really developed the culture and drove the work ethic of our amazing men and women of our fire department, who run toward danger every day to protect our community,” West said. “Though he has led so many efforts for our city, he would humbly, and proudly, tell you that it is his team that made it all happen. I thank the chief for his leadership, professionalism and for his great service to our city.”

In a press release this week, the City of Long Beach listed several of DuRee’s accomplishments, including developing key strategies that helped shape the culture and core values of the department.

“During his tenure in the department, DuRee: established the HEART team, which is integral to the outreach process to those in the city who are experiencing homelessness; improved the structure of the recruit-selection process, leading to greater entry-level diversity in the organization as well as greater levels of retention through the fire academy and probationary process; and reformed the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, adding Spanish-language and teen programs, with total community participation of over 2,000 people throughout the city. He also enhanced the community-services section of the department by developing and implementing a robust social-media strategy,” the release reads.

The press release also states that he greatly improved the functionality of the Fire Prevention Bureau, enhancing speed and connectivity with the business community.

“Beyond his local accomplishments, he also assisted in the development and passage of statewide and federal legislation that benefited the Fire Service,” the release states. “Further, he enhanced the City’s role in the statewide, master mutual-aid system.”

DuRee has indicated he plans to spend more time with family and to travel. He will also continue to work with the California Fire Chiefs Association and Metro Chiefs Association on issues that affect the Fire Service, according to city officials.

His last day as fire chief will be Friday, Oct. 5. West will conduct an internal recruitment for the next fire chief and announce the appointment of the next one prior to DuRee’s departure, officials said.

“I have been honored to serve as the fire chief for the Long Beach Fire Department,” DuRee said. “It was my dream, as a child, to follow in the footsteps of my father, grandfather and great-grandfather and join the Long Beach Fire Department. I am thankful for everything the City has provided me and my family throughout my career. The Long Beach Fire Department is one of the finest fire service organizations in the country, and I am honored to say that I have been a part of our shared success. I am confident that the department will continue to exceed the expectations of, and do amazing work for, our community.”