SANTA MARIA — City Manager Jason Stilwell named Todd Tuggle as Santa Maria’s interim fire chief, effective Saturday following the retirement of Chief Leonard Champion.
Chief Tuggle joined Santa Maria’s Fire Department Feb. 3, taking the role of deputy fire chief. Prior to moving to Santa Maria, he worked in the city of Fresno Fire Department for 17 years, eventually earning the rank of battalion chief.
He attended Cal Poly SLO and graduated in 1996 and earned his master’s of arts in homeland security from the Naval Postgraduate School in 2016.
Santa Maria City Council commended Chief Champion’s work during its meeting Tuesday.
“I just wanted to say you are in good hands with the staff that remains and will carry on that mission of service,” Chief Champion said.
SMFD employs 75 people and operates five fire stations across the community and an additional station dedicated to the Santa Maria Public Airport.
SMFD responds to around 10,000 calls annually.
— Annelise Hanshaw