Chief Thomas O’Donohue is leaving the Golden Valley Fire District (GVFD) to become the the Chief of the smaller Wittmann Fire District on the outskirts of Surprise, north of Phoenix. O’Donohue said he will likely assume command of the single station Fire District with 18 firefighters at the end of October.
It is expected that Assistant Chief Jack Yeager will be appointed interim chief in Golden Valley upon O’Donohue’s exit. Yeager has said he is not interested in serving as Chief over the long run.
O’Donohue said he’ll help transition the administration of the district to Yeager and will always be available to assist, however possible.
“Just because I’m leaving Golden Valley Fire doesn’t meant that I still don’t have a vested interest in the success of the organization,” O’Donohue said. “I was brought in as a change agent and change is still coming in the future. There’s many things that are in progress right now that have unfinished business, so I’m very interested in seeing things completed.”
There’s a long history of political volatility within the GVFD. The infighting has continued and sometimes escalated during O’Donohue’s 4 1/2 year run as Chief.
O’Donohue said the district is nonetheless blessed with a core of dedicated, talented and accomplished professionals.
“We have a phenomenal group of firefighters, a very supportive group. I’ve been approached by multiple people in the organization asking me not to leave and wishing me the best as I move forward,” O’Donohue said. “The politics here in this community can be very, very difficult and I hope that the detractors for Golden Valley Fire can find it in their hearts to just relax and support the incoming administration, whoever that may be. It started way before I was here and it might continue, but I’m hoping for the best for the organization. We’ve got a phenomenal group of firefighters and I would hate to see them adversely affected because there’s a few people with an axe to grind.”