Butte County January 11, 2019 – Butte Unit Chief Darren Read is retiring, effective January 11, 2019. Chief Read has led CAL FIRE’s Butte Unit since 2016.
Chief Read entered the fire service in 1983 as a Fire Explorer with the City of Oroville Fire Department. In January 1987, he became a Volunteer Firefighter for the Butte County Fire Department, working in the Oroville area. In June 1987, Read began his career with CAL FIRE as a Firefighter I in the Butte Unit.
Over the next two decades, he promoted through the ranks as a Firefighter II, Fire Apparatus Engineer, Fire Captain, Battalion Chief and Division Chief. He worked in the CAL FIRE Fresno-Kings, Riverside, Nevada-Yuba-Placer, and Tehama-Glenn Units before returning to the Butte Unit in November 2008. In addition, Chief Read has been a CAL FIRE Peace Officer since 2005.
While serving the citizens of Butte County, Read procured $9 million in grants for the Butte County, Gridley and Biggs Fire Departments. He spearheaded major improvements and upgrades to the county’s Openshaw Training Grounds, and chaired the committee to re-write the Butte County Fire Department’s Volunteer Firefighters Standard Operating Procedures.
As Chief Read retires, he leaves with fond words for those who worked under him, saying, “You are a team of people truly committed to public safety and serving the public… there will most certainly be some challenging times ahead, but dealing with challenges is what you do the best.”
With the retirement of Chief Read, David Hawks becomes the new CAL FIRE Butte Unit Chief. Chief Hawks has 30 years of fire service experience. He has worked as a Firefighter, Engineer and Captain in stations throughout CAL FIRE’s Butte, Nevada-Yuba-Placer, and Tuolumne-Calaveras Units. Chief Hawks worked as a Captain in the Butte Unit Emergency Command Center (dispatch) and Fire Prevention Bureaus, before promoting in 2006 to Battalion Chief overseeing the Emergency Command Center in Oroville. In 2011, Chief Hawks became a field Battalion Chief in the Chico area leading county fire stations in Nord, North & South Chico. In 2013, Chief Hawks promoted to Division Chief overseeing unit operations in the northern half of Butte County where he served as the Town of Paradise Fire Chief.
Chief Hawks has served thirteen years on CAL FIRE’s statewide Incident Management Teams, most recently as an Operations Section Chief; and, has served on several training cadres. Chief Hawks has been very involved in local fuel reduction work and emergency evacuation planning throughout Butte County. Hawks holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Forest Resource Management and a Masters of Business Administration from Humboldt State University.
“I feel very proud and privileged to lead our fire department,” said Chief Hawks in a statement to Butte Unit employees. “It’s through your hard and skillful work at all levels, integrity and compassion to those we serve and dedication to the service during both emergency and non-emergency work that has earned us the respect and distinction of being fire service leaders and professionals.”
In being named CAL FIRE Butte Unit Chief, Hawks will also serve as Fire Chief for the Butte County Fire Department.