The California Fire Service March-April 2020

CSFA News 6 • THE CALIFORNIA FIRE SERVICE MAGAZINE • MARCH/APRIL 2020 By Gary Giacomo THE CALIFORNIA FIRE Editor’s note: On April 1, 2020, Jeff Meston became the tenth person to lead the administrative side of CSFA as he assumed the role of Executive Director from Gene Gantt, who recently retired following a ten year stint. Meston’s roots as a CSFA member go back to his time as a volunteer with Alam- eda OES in 1976. The next year, Jeff joined the Madera City Fire Department as a paid firefight- er. He advanced through the ranks at Madera, and then took a battalion chief’s position at Novato Fire Protection District in Marin County in 1986. He eventually served as fire chief at that department, and later was fire chief at South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue, until his re- tirement last year. Along the way Jeff has been involved as a leader in the communities that he has served, and a leader on state- wide fire issues. He was the first certified Firefighter II in the state of California. He is an ac- complished course developer, instructor and speaker at both the state and national level, and is the immediate past president of the California Fire Chiefs Association. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Public Administration as well as half a dozen national and state fire service certifications. Jeff sat down recently for an interview to share his thoughts on CSFA and the California fire service. The California Fire Service: At 98 years old, CSFA is a financially healthy and vibrant organization. What is your vision for where the organization needs to go from here? Jeff Meston: I believe to provide a vision for the fu- ture we must look to the great work accomplished by the orga- nization in the past. In 1922 the United States was in the midst of the roaring 20’s. The Western United States was still reeling from the 1910 Great Fire which consumed 3 million acres and challenged firefighting resourc- es. In 1920 New York had just had the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire which killed 146 workers. Fire protection in the United States was under scrutiny and the safe- ty of firefighters was becoming a priority. Here in California, farm- ing, oil and entertainment drove the economy. California had 4 of the top 100 populated cities in the United States including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego. California’s pop- ulated cities had paid, combina- tion and volunteer fire depart- ments. CSFA was a legislative voice for health and safety, wag- es and hours and fire prevention rules and regulations. CSFA was an early voice in the his- tory of California’s fire service. Roll the clock ahead 98 years and I find myself, after a 40 plus year career, being selected to serve as the execu- tive director of CSFA. This is a huge honor for my family, as I am a third-generation firefighter. I take this responsi- bility seriously, and believe my role is to serve and imple- ment the vision of the President and Board of Directors, oversee the administrative operations of the organization, serve as a steward of the finances of CSFA, and to keep CSFA Executive Director Jeff Meston Meet CSFA Executive Director Jeff Meston