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CAL FIRE firefighter retiring after 30 years in SLO County - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

CAL FIRE firefighter retiring after 30 years in SLO County

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After serving nearly three decades with CAL FIRE SLO, Deputy Fire Chief Eric Cleveland is retiring. 

What makes his story unique is the 30 years he spent in the same county.

Cleveland started as a volunteer firefighter with Santa Margarita Fire in 1986.


Eric Cleveland during his time as a firefighter in SLO County. (Photo courtesy of the Cleveland family)

He quickly climbed the ranks, serving as a seasonal firefighter with CAL FIRE, then as an engineer, a captain, battalion chief, administrative chief and his latest role - deputy chief.  

Cleveland shared with KSBY what he'll miss most about his job and what lies ahead.

"The friendships, the... just the day-to-day interactions, the little jokes, the one-liners," he said. 

But what's next for Cleveland includes, "Coaching, coach soccer, coach baseball and my daughter's in gymnastics, so I'll be able to attend more of those," he said.

Cleveland's unit chief, Scott Jalbert, says there will be some big shoes to fill at CAL FIRE SLO in Cleveland's absence. 

"Eric especially has the institutional knowledge in the county. He's well-known and well-liked through all the different agencies we work with on a daily basis. His leadership style and role and institutional knowledge is really hard to fill," Jalbert said.


Eric Cleveland during his time as a firefighter in SLO County. (Photo courtesy of the Cleveland family)

Cleveland says some of the biggest changes he's seen over the years are how crews perform vehicle extrications along with the use of Twitter to get the word out about various things to the community. 
 

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