Excerpts from the vvdailypress.com:

The City of Victorville, CA has tapped Greg Benson, a former fire chief with more than 35 years of public safety experience, to serve as the head of the Victorville Fire Department.

Benson will oversee the city’s underway transition from San Bernardino County Fire to its own agency. He is expected to begin April 23. The choice comes after conclusion of a nationwide search for a top official. A native of Illinois, Benson most recently oversaw the formation of the Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District in Illinois, serving as the fire chief there for five years.

City officials said his experience leading the establishment of a new department and his focus on community engagement were major factors in their decision.

“In addition to leading the formation of a new fire department, Greg has helped fire departments nationwide achieve highly coveted accreditation status,” Interim City Manager Keith Metzler said in a statement. “These experiences along with his sincere commitment to community involvement make Greg the ideal person to lead our city’s fire department, oversee its formation, and ensure it achieves service excellence.”

Since retiring in 2015, Benson has acted as a professional services consultant assisting fire departments nationwide to achieve accreditation status. Benson will immediately be charged with staffing the new department. But in the long-run, officials hope he can garner accreditation status for the new department — a status reportedly achieved by less than 1 percent of the nation’s municipal fire agencies.

City officials have said a reactivation of its decade-long dormant city fire department will reduce spending by 5 percent annually and equate to a $3.8 million savings in the first five years — a shift supported by the majority council. After the first five years, officials expect cost savings of roughly 14 percent annually and also 70 percent less in pension costs than if the city were to continue with the San Bernardino County Fire.

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