Sheldon “Kalani” Hao, who will lead the Honolulu Fire Department in the new year, said his first goal on the job is to fill the 15 upcoming vacancies — four assistant chiefs and 11 battalion chiefs — by the end of this year. “Getting our command team ready and going so we can move forward with our vision,” Hao said.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi held a press conference this morning at the Honolulu Hale to announce Hao, who served as the acting deputy fire chief, has been selected as the new chief.
“I’ve got the bar set really high and my expectations of him because I just think I know having talked with him about this opportunity,” Blangiardi said. “I know where his heart’s at, where his abilities are at and I think that we’re welcoming a great young leader to lead our fire department.”
The Star-Advertiser previously reported the seven-member Honolulu Fire Commission voted in a 6-0 vote on Tuesday for Hao, commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nekota confirmed. Commissioner David Matlin, who joined in October, abstained because he was not part of the interview process, but he was supportive of the vote, Nekota said.
Hao and Acting Fire Chief Lionel Camara Jr. were the two finalists of a months-long selection process for HFD’s new fire chief. Camara sent a departmentwide email around noon on Tuesday announcing his retirement on Dec. 30 along with Hao’s transition to fire chief on Jan. 1.
The selection process for a new chief started after former Fire Chief Manuel Neves retired from HFD in February.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be mentored by many people over the years and they’ve passed on their knowledge and experiences to me and I’m very grateful for that,” Hao said today during the press conference. “I want to keep doing my part to move the department forward and with the objective of leaving it better than we found it.”
Watch a replay of the video above.
Editor’s Note: This story is developing and will be updated as soon as more information becomes available.