Fire chief to retire in March

Steve Lewis says he’ll leave March 1 to take care of his parents and in-laws. His doctor recommended he also work on his physical health.

January 20, 2010|By Joseph Serna

Newport Beach Fire Chief Steve Lewis will retire March 1, he said Wednesday.

“I’ve been thinking about this for some time,” Lewis said. He said he notified City Manager Dave Kiff about his decision in a Monday morning e-mail.

“I have some family things I need to take care of with my parents and in-laws,” he said. “All of a sudden I don’t think I can give my undivided attention here. I was trying to do that and wasn’t able to do that.”


Lewis said he’s been helping his parents in Lake Forest for a while now, going there three or four days a week, he said. In the last month or so, he said he came to the realization he couldn’t match the demands of being fire chief without making sacrifices on the personal side.

“You can only juggle things so much, and now it’s time to take care of the personal side,” he said, adding that his doctor had instructed him to work on his physical health as well. “I’m 58. I’m not getting any younger.”

Lewis was the sixth full-time fire chief in Newport Beach Fire Department history, which reaches back to 1927. He took over the department in November 2006 and has nearly 30 years of fire department experience. He took over the position from Tim Riley, who was chief for 15 years.

Under Lewis’ leadership, he opened up an eighth fire station and developed an Urban Search and Rescue Program.

Kiff was unavailable for comment on the future of the chief’s position.

Lewis said he’s staying until March 1 to tie up loose ends and prepare the department for new leadership.

With Lewis’ departure, there’s a possibility that Newport Beach will have interim chiefs for both the police and fire departments for a few months, with the interim police chief not scheduled to be replaced until July.

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