CATHEDRAL CITY — Fire Chief Paul S. Wilson has announced his retirement from the city effective May 28, Uken Report has confirmed.

He and his wife, Pam, will be moving to Mesa, Ariz., to be near — and help take care of — his elderly mother.

Wilson could not immediately be reached for comment Monday morning.

“He embodies all that you would want in a fire chief,” Chris Parman, communications manager, told Uken Report. A nationwide search will be conducted, Parman said.

City Councilmember Mark Carnevale said, “Chief Wilson is first and foremost a gentleman. That’s what I dug about the guy.”

Corey Goddard, an engineer/paramedic for the Cathedral City Fire Department and president of the Cathedral City Professional Firefighters Association (CCPFA), told Uken Report that Chief Wilson was instrumental in getting the Cathedral City Fire Department to a minimum staffing level.

“Without his knowledge and expertise, the department would still be at a less than minimum level,” Goddard said. “This increased staffing to 3 firefighters on the fire engines and truck. This is a safer level for the residents, visitors, and fire personnel. Chief Wilson was also the driving force to updating the strategic plan together to help improve the department in the future. Without his leadership, the department may have not have made it to a safer operating level.”

Fire Chief Wilson started his position in April 2015, bringing more than 35 years of firefighting experience to the job, according to a city news release at the time. Before that, he served as the chief in Sun Lakes, Ariz., and was in Menlo Park before that.

Under Wilson’s leadership, construction on a new, single-story, mid-century modern fire station has started on Buddy Rogers Avenue near Date Palm Drive.

The new, 9,800-square-foot fire station will be twice the size of the existing 4,800-square-foot structure at 36913 Date Palm Drive. The new building will be located directly northwest of its current location.

The new fire station is expected to serve the city – and its growth — for the next 50 years. Estimates for the 2020 Census indicate that Cathedral City will be home to about 58,000 people, roughly 3,000 more than currently live in the community, Wilson said. In season, October to April, an additional 17,000 call Cathedral City home, according to Wilson.

Wilson filled a vacancy left when Fire Chief Robert Van Nortrick retired at the end of December 2014. Van Nortrick was appointed chief in February 2013, and had been interim chief for about seven months after city leaders laid off Chief Bill Soqui amid an $8 million budget deficit.

Cathedral City and Palm Springs are the only two cities in the Coachella Valley that don’t contract with Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department for service.


Image Sources

  • Fire Chief Paul S. Wilson: Cindy Uken