GARDEN GROVE, CA – Fire Chief David Barlag has resigned, ending his 28-year tenure as a Garden Grove firefighter and a two-year assignment as the department’s top official.
In recent months, the city has faced allegations of nepotism in the hiring of Mayor Bruce Broadwater’s son, Jeremy Broadwater, in the Fire Department. In addition, the firefighters union cast a unanimous vote of no confidence in Barlag’s leadership.
City Manager Matthew Fertal announced the resignation in an internal employee newsletter, dated September 2014, that was obtained by the Orange County Register. The city has not publicly announced Barlag’s resignation, but the City Clerk’s Office confirmed that he stepped down.
Barlag could not immediately be reached for comment.
The city will begin a nationwide search for a new fire chief.
In the newsletter, Fertal wrote of Barlag’s accomplishments, including coordinating the Fire Department’s efforts in combating wildfires, consulting on designs for the department’s new headquarters and advocating for the purchased of two new fire engines.
“With much regret, I have accepted Fire Chief Barlag’s resignation,” Fertal said in the newsletter. “Dave has had a distinguished career with the department and in the fire service profession. He knows that he will continue to have the support and respect of city family for many years to come.”
But that support waned, at least among the city’s firefighters, after it was reported that Broadwater had been hired by the Fire Department despite a criminal record and that after his October 2013 hiring, his work drew reprimands from superiors.
In June, the Garden Grove firefighters union gave a 51-0 vote of no confidence in Barlag’s leadership.
Last month, when the City Council voted to tighten the city’s nepotism policy, Garden Grove firefighters filled the Council Chambers to demand a change in leadership.