Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, CA)
BYLINE: Wes Woods II, Staff Writer
LA VERNE – After more than 12 years of working here, Fire Chief John F. Breaux will retire June 28.
Breaux, who previously worked for Brea’s fire department for about 17 years, is scheduled to work his 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift Thursday, but he’s not sure if he’ll participate in the traditional last alarm ceremony.
“They typically do a last alarm,” Breaux said. “The last alarm they read off career stuff, accomplishments and stuff like that. Having seen that and listened to it and experienced it … they also give you a ride home – if you live close enough and I do – on one of the fire engines and it’s just kind of sad. It’s really tough. I don’t know if I want to go through that emotionally.”
Breaux said the time is right for him to retire after 30 years.
“I’ve done my 30, I’m old and I’ve been able to help get done all that needs to get done,” he said.
City Manager Bob Russi said Breaux has had many accomplishments during his tenure but one stands out.
“Most notable was the completing of Station 3 in north La Verne,” Russi said of the station that was finished in 2007. “He also was always looking for innovate ways in making the department more self-sustaining from a financial standpoint. I always appreciated that from a city manager perspective. We are fortunate to have him end his career in the city.”
Breaux said the Fire Department has been under budget for 13 consecutive years with a cost savings totaling more than $1.5 million, and under his tenure the department had generated more than $15 million in new revenue.
“Good people and careful financial management, which is one of the tenets of the city,” Breaux said to explain the way his department has been under budget.
Meanwhile, Breaux said the department has been able to make money through tactics such as ambulance billing; a Community Facilities District, which finances fire suppression and prevention services; and leasing a portion of the newly built fire station to the U.S. Forest Service.
“Chief is a valuable asset to the fire department,” Battalion Chief Pete Jankowski said,
Jankowski will become the department’s interim fire chief and has worked closely with Breaux to prepare for the new position.
“I’ve definitely been able to learn a lot from him,” Jankowski said of Breaux.
“He’s always been innovative, he’s always been creative, and most importantly he’s always given the firefighters the resources they need to do things that make the Fire Department and the city better.”
Breaux, 56, was born in Los Angeles but raised in Covina. He graduated in 1974 from Royal Oak High School where he met and married his high school sweetheart, Teddi. They have two adult children, Sean and Reilly.
Breaux graduated from Mt. San Antonio College in 1977 with a degree in fire technology. He took a hiatus for one semester from Mt. SAC to play professional baseball for the Minnesota Twins after being drafted in 1976 as a pitcher, but injuries took him out of the sport.
“That’s OK … the whole time I played baseball I wanted to be a firefighter anyway,” Breaux said.
“It wasn’t a backup plan. About the time I was 15, I decided that’s what I wanted to do. I’ve always been goals oriented and focused, and by God that’s what I was going to do. It took until I was 26 to make it happen. And I got hired by the city of Brea.”
He graduated Cal State Long Beach in 2000 with a bachelor’s of science in occupational studies.
Before getting the degree, he came to La Verne as a battalion chief in January 2000.
“I actually felt like I came home when I came here,” Breaux said. “It’s just a wonderful city.”
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