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Honolulu Fire Department holds ceremony to welcome new chief, deputy chief

  • COURTESY HONOLULU FIRE DEPARTMENT
                                Retired Fire Chief Manuel Neves, Fire Chief Sheldon Hao and Deputy Fire Chief Jason Samala at the Honolulu Fire Department’s Change of Command ceremony

    COURTESY HONOLULU FIRE DEPARTMENT

    Retired Fire Chief Manuel Neves, Fire Chief Sheldon Hao and Deputy Fire Chief Jason Samala at the Honolulu Fire Department’s Change of Command ceremony

The Honolulu Fire Department held a Change of Command ceremony today to recognize Sheldon Hao as its new fire chief and Jason Samala as deputy fire chief.

The ceremonious “transfer of responsibility, authority and accountability” from HFD’s 34th fire chief to its 35th was attended by retired Fire Chief Manuel Neves, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi and members of the Honolulu Fire Commission at the fire department’s Hale Kinai Ahi Auditorium, according to a news release from HFD today.

The ceremony, according to the news release, included the badge pinning presentation, during the spouses of Hao and Samala pinned their new badges onto their uniforms.

“I am honored and humbled to have this amazing opportunity to serve the members of the Honolulu Fire Department and the people of the City and County of Honolulu,” Hao said in a statement. “Deputy Chief Samala and I share a vision, and we are ready to answer the call to dedicate ourselves to finding new and efficient ways to benefit our personnel and improve how we serve our island communities.”

Hao was selected by the fire commission on Dec. 15 to lead the fire department. At the time he had been serving as acting deputy fire chief after Neves retired last February.

During the ceremony Neves also passed to the new chief the Speaking Trumpet, a traditional instrument that symbolizes rank in the fire department and was used in the 1800s to direct commands during fires and other emergencies.

“I have no doubt that Chief Hao will lead by example, as we assemble and rebuild our workforce,” Samala said. “We are exploring exciting and innovative ideas so we can improve how the HFD operates and how we serve the public.”

Hao and Samala have already interviewed 42 candidates for chief officer positions to complete their command team.

“In that spirit of passing it forward, we want to assure our personnel their voices will be heard,” Hao said. “We plan to enhance our workforce by advancing training and creating an internal internship program to encourage our employees to work in new areas, learn more about the HFD and themselves, and become a genuine stakeholder in our Department.”

Both plan to apply new business techniques and implement new tools to create a safer and more effective workplace, the news release said.

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