Los Banos fire chief Guintini delays retirement

By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.comJanuary 3, 2013 

Los Banos Fire Chief Chet Guintini will be at the helm a little bit longer.

Guintini, who originally planned to retire in April, has delayed his departure for one year.

Guintini said he announced his original retirement date last March to give the city plenty of time to find his replacement, but issues with emergency services unions led him to postpone retirement.

"Part of it (the decision on when to retire) was what I read in the policy manual. It said department heads retiring within one year can get a pay increase," Guintini said.

He said exercising that option caused the police, fire and dispatchers unions to ask for the same deal for their members.

Guintini said rather than getting into a legal battle about why he is entitled to receive the raise pre-retirement and the union members are not, he decided to extend his departure date.

"I enjoy doing my job. I wasn't really ready to retire," Guintini said.

Acting City Manager Gary Brizzee said having Guintini continue to work for the city is a positive.

"Him being around is a good thing, having all that knowledge of his department and the city," Brizzee said.

Guintini said in the next year his priority will be trying to maintain staffing levels at the Fire Department.

In January 2014, Los Banos is scheduled to see the expiration of Measure A, an amendment to a half-cent sales tax that allows salaries of police officers and firefighters to be paid from funds previously reserved for public safety buildings. Guintini is expected to be involved in the campaign to get an extension of Measure A.

Guintini, 62, has been Los Banos' fire chief for 25 of his 35 years with the Fire Department. He's a familiar fixture at fires, whether manning the hose or overseeing the fire crew. Guintini was in the carpentry business in the 1970s and has thought about returning to it post-retirement.

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