Alton fire chief abruptly resigns

“This article appeared in the May 28 issue of the Progress Times.”

Alton Fire Chief Javier Garcia abruptly resigned on Tuesday.

Garcia and his assistant chief, Tommy Ureste, both resigned within the past two weeks.

“He just felt it best that he not be working with us anymore,” said City Manager Jeff Underwood.

Garcia couldn’t be reached for comment.

Alton employs about 17 firefighters, including the chief, according to salary data released by the city in January.

 

Former Alton Fire Chief Javier Garcia. Courtesy of the city of Alton

Garcia — who doubled as the fire marshal — supervised an assistant chief, three lieutenants, six engineers and six firefighters. He earned about $69,000.

What prompted Garcia to quit remains unclear. His resignation, however, followed a reorganization at City Hall.

Alton created an assistant city manager position and a public safety director position in March.

City Secretary Baudelia Rojas became the assistant city manager. Police Chief Jonathan B. Flores became the public safety director. Both kept their existing jobs.

After the reorganization, Garcia reported to Flores.

“I would imagine that any time you are told you have a boss, that may hit the ego,” Underwood said.

Javier Garcia, second from the left. Courtesy of the city of Alton

Garcia transformed the Alton Fire Department into a well-run, professional organization, Underwood said, and the city wishes him well.

Lt. Gabriel Garza is serving as interim fire chief. Lt. Emmanuel Espinoza is serving as interim assistant fire chief.

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