Santa Monica Fire Department Chief Jim Hone has announced his plan to retire at the end of January, 30 years after he joined the department.

In a memo to department personnel Thursday, August 13th, Hone said he informed City Manager Lamont Ewell and the City Council that he plans to step down as fire chief in the beginning of next year. Hone, who joined the fire department January 7th, 1980, has served as chief since 2003.

He explained that retirement will allow him to spend more time with his wife Linda, who has provided “unwavering support” during his time with the agency. The decision comes at the right time, as there are several projects currently underway that are expected to be completed by the end of the year, allowing for a smooth transition of leadership, he said.

“When you enjoy something as much as I do — this career, this department and this community — it’s never an easy decision, but it’s definitely the right decision at the right time,” Hone said.

Ewell, who previously served as Oakland fire chief, said Hone will be missed tremendously and his resignation will leave a void in the fire department.

Among the projects that should be operational by the time he leaves are a new dispatch center and a new insurance service office, Hone said. New firefighter recruits will also be selected by that time and the department will have about six months to prepare for a new budget.

Having worked in Santa Monica for three decades, Hone said he has been honored to serve the city as chief.

“It’s been an honor and a tremendous pleasure to serve the community at this level,” he said. “I can’t think of a more rewarding career.”

He called it a privilege to be able to work with members of his department and other city departments and see how they work together to provide service.

Prior to serving as fire chief, Hone worked as a firefighter/paramedic, fire captain, Support Services Division chief and fire marshal. During his career he has been involved in disaster response, recovery and training, and has served on several local, state and federal disaster response teams and committees.

He responded to six federal disasters to assist local governments and coordinate Federal Emergency Management Agency Urban Search and Rescue resources. The two most significant disasters were the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11th, 2001.

Some of the highlights during his time with the department include the construction of a replacement Fire Station 2, and the development of the Urban Search and Rescue and Hazardous Materials Response Teams, which specialize in mitigating technically challenging rescue and toxic emergency incidents, he said.

Before coming to Santa Monica, Hone served six years in the U.S. Air Force as a fire protection crash rescue specialist.