Michael E. Pretz, Chief of the Lodi Fire Department for eight years, announced Friday he is retiring in June.
During his tenure, Pretz oversaw the opening of Fire Station 4, the replacement of fire apparatus, the purchase and replacement of the department’s self-contained breathing apparatus, the introduction of mobile data computers, the beginning of a transition from the current analog radio system to digital, and the increase in the number of firefighters serving Lodi.
“I’ve been in public safety for over 35 years and it has truly been a rewarding experience serving the public in Colorado, Washington State and Lodi,” Pretz said. “It is with mixed feelings that I leave a career that has been such a large part of my life. I have been very fortunate to work with many dedicated high-caliber individuals, especially these last few years.
“The men and women of the Lodi Fire Department are an extraordinary group. I have enjoyed working with each department member and wish to thank them all for the past eight years. We have faced and overcome many challenges and I commend everyone for their dedication and perseverance.”
Pretz’s final day as chief is June 26. City Manager Blair King said he will explore filling the position on an interim basis with existing Lodi Fire Department personnel.
“We appreciate Mike’s service to the City as fire chief and through his work with local nonprofit groups,” King said. “We also appreciate that he is giving us the financial flexibility at the time we need it the most.”
The City of Lodi recently offered a program in which a handful of employees were offered an enhanced retirement benefit as a way of reducing payroll expenses. One of the conditions required by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System is that the positions of those employees accepting the two years’ additional service credit are left vacant.
King said a high-level management position within the Fire Department will remain vacant to meet CalPERS’ requirements.