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Priority #1 for Honolulu’s new fire chief: Filling upwards of 120 vacancies

Mayor Rick Blangiardi on Wednesday morning officially introduced Honolulu’s 35th fire chief: Kalani Hao.
Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 3:33 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 16, 2021 at 4:45 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mayor Rick Blangiardi on Wednesday morning officially introduced Honolulu’s 35th fire chief: Kalani Hao.

“I know he has the loyalty, which I think is really important, from so many members of this fire department,” said Blangiardi. “So I’ve got the bar set really high in my expectations of him.”

The selection by the Honolulu Fire Commission comes after an 11-month search to fill the position. The process, scrutinized by onlookers, ended when one of the last two candidates retired.

“I understand the responsibilities and the expectations that come with this role,” Hao said.

“And I fully embrace it.”

He said his first goal is to fill approximately 120 vacancies. That includes 26 command staff positions.

“We’re safety in numbers,” he said. “That’s our main focus working on our personnel. Making sure we have the right amount of bodies and the right amount of trained bodies.”

Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Chief Manuel Neves, Hao says he will continue the department’s push for mandatory smoke detectors and sprinkler systems in all new homes.

City law now requires owners of older highrises to install automatic sprinkler systems or conduct a life safety evaluation of their complex.

“I think that it’s something people should consider,” Hao said. “The goal is to keep our public safe and our firefighters safe. So that’s something we continue to push for.”

Hao says throughout the pandemic, he’s been inspired by how firefighters have stepped up with such dedication to their community.

He says he wants to do his part to make sure they all get home safely to their families.

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