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Government & Politics

Outgoing Cleveland fire chief reflects on career at retirement event

Outgoing Cleveland Division of Fire Chief Angelo Calvillo speaks during a retirement ceremony on Thursday.
Ryan Loew
/
Ideastream Public Media
Outgoing Cleveland Division of Fire Chief Angelo Calvillo speaks during a retirement ceremony on Thursday.

At a brief retirement ceremony in Cleveland Thursday, city fire department Chief Angelo Calvillo said retiring was one of the most difficult decisions he’s made in his career.

“Nothing prepares you for your separation from this great career,” Calvillo said to a crowd of fire and city government officials gathered at the Western Reserve Fire Museum and Education Center.

“I have been blessed to have a healthy 33-year career, spanning from the morning on May 8, 1989, when my class first reported to the fire training academy,” Calvillo said.

Former Mayor Frank Jackson named Calvillo chief in 2015. The years that followed were characterized by a contentious relationship with the union, I.A.A.F. Local 93.

In 2019, the union sued Calvillo and then-Director of Public Safety Michael McGrath for unilaterally changing a shift starting time. That same year, the union reportedly planned to sue Calvillo for allegedly illegally taking part in political activities, though no records for that lawsuit could be found on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas website.

There was also a 2019 “no-confidence” vote in the chief, hearings at city council about working conditions and another union vote to censure Calvillo last year.

Jackson resisted the repeated calls for Calvillo’s replacement until leaving office at the beginning of the year. Calvillo first announced his retirement in April. His last day will be May 13.

Calvillo spoke briefly about the members of the department during his retirement ceremony.

“Firefighting requires teamwork and I have been on many great teams here at the Cleveland Division of Fire,” Calvillo said. “I know the men and the women of the CFD will continue to serve to the high standards of being Cleveland firefighters.”

Calvillo’s boss, Director of Public Safety Karrie Howard, Interim Chief of Police Wayne Drummond and Mayor Justin Bibb were not in attendance for the brief ceremony.

City Council President Blaine Griffin spoke, apparently unexpectedly, after Calvillo finished speaking and presented a gift on behalf of council.

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