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City of Canyon Lake announces new interim fire chief

The City of Canyon Lake has selected Chief Jeff LaTendresse to serve as the city’s new fire consultant/interim fire chief. LaTendresse’s first day on the job was February 1. Photo provided by the City of Canyon Lake.

Chief Jeff LaTendresse will serve as Canyon Lake’s new fire consultant/interim fire chief, the City of Canyon Lake announced on Wednesday.

LaTendresse will work under the direction of the city manager and alongside city staff and the city council’s Fire Ad Hoc Committee to establish a municipal fire department owned and operated by the City of Canyon Lake. 

The new fire department will begin serving the city on January 1, 2022. Per the city’s cooperative agreement with the county, Riverside CountyFire/Cal Fire will continue providing fire and emergency medical services to the city until the transition is complete.

LaTendresse comes to Canyon Lake with 30 years of fire and EMS experience, having held almost every position in the fire service while working his way up the ranks in departments throughout Southern California. He is also a veteran of the United States Air Force, having served abroad as a fire protection specialist responding to aerospace, structural, and medical emergencies.

LaTendresse retired from the Laguna Beach Fire Department in 2017, where he served in various positions for 20 years, the last five years as fire chief. Prior to that, he served as a battalion chief and fire marshal for the Cathedral City Fire Department, an engineer and paramedic for the Indio Fire Department, an emergency medical technician for McCormick Ambulance Service, a paid-call firefighter for the Apple Valley Fire Protection District, and a fire explorer for the Redondo Beach Fire Department.

LaTendresse was chosen out of a candidate pool of 38 applicants. The top six applicants were invited to interview in front of a seven-member panel consisting of Canyon Lake City Manager Chris Mann, assistant city managers of the cities of Lake Elsinore and Wildomar, assistant county executive officer for Public Safety, the City of Murrieta fire chief, and the two members of the Canyon Lake City Council who serve on the city’s Fire Ad Hoc Committee.

“Chief LaTendresse stood out from the very beginning of the application process,” said Mann. “While we received a strong number of qualified applicants, Chief LaTendresse’s background and experience, his performance during the interview, and his professional approach and demeanor made him the clear choice. He impressed the interview panel, demonstrating that he possesses the right knowledge, attitude, and work ethic to get the job done. I’m confident that we found the right individual to help us stand-up our Canyon Lake Fire Department.”

LaTendresse’s first day on the job was Monday, February 1. “I couldn’t be more excited for the unique opportunity to start a brand-new fire department for the residents of this amazing city,” LaTendresse said. “While we have a lot of work ahead of us over the next eleven months, I believe strongly that this is the right move for Canyon Lake.”

LaTendresse said he is confident that he will be able to put together a highly professional department that provides the same or higher level of service than what the city is currently receiving at a reduced cost to taxpayers. “We are going to create a department that is responsive, engaged in the community, and financially sustainable,” LaTendresse said. “This will be a fire department Canyon Lakers can be proud to call their own.”

The city released a video introducing LaTendresse to the community. Click here to view the video.

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