APTOS — Aaron Lowe has been tapped as the new fire chief of the Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District, the board of directors recently announced.
Lowe was selected from a field of 31 applicants after a five-month nationwide recruitment process, according to fire district officials.
His base salary is $190,000, according to a contract approved by the board of directors on April 12.
“I’m truly excited about coming to the Aptos/La Selva area,” said Lowe, who begins his new post on April 23. “When this opportunity came up, I was thrilled. It’s quite an amazing opportunity that I did not want to pass up.”
As a 24-year veteran of the fire service, Lowe has worked in all operational ranks, from firefighter up to interim fire chief for the City of Chico. He has also served as a member of U.S. Forest Service’s Incident Management Teams for the past 13 years.
Lowe, who grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from Lynbrook High School, said he would visit Santa Cruz County beaches as a child, recalling trips to Seacliff State Beach and seeing the SS Palo Alto.
While working at a restaurant in Cupertino years ago, Lowe met firefighters from San Jose and Palo Alto, who encouraged him to consider a career in firefighting. After earning his associate degree in fire service technology and a bachelor of science degree in fire administration, he was hired by the Chico Fire Department, where he has served since.
Lowe said the Chico Fire Department has the “same jurisdictional diversity” as Aptos, from its geographic makeup of ocean and cliffs, to the structures and freeways. He also described CFD as a “smaller department,” which responded to about 13,500 calls in 2017.
“You have to be very diverse in your skill sets,” he said.
Lowe comes to the Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District at a time when its previous chief, Jon Jones, received a vote of no confidence by the Aptos/La Selva Firefighters Local 3535 in early 2017. The firefighters claimed that Jones lacked the communication and leadership skills to run the department.
Later in the year, the board of directors voted to not extend Jones’ contract.
Lowe said he plans on being “open and transparent” with not only the firefighters and management, but the community as well.
“If you don’t learn from past mistakes, you are destined to repeat them,” he said. “I want to make sure I listen to the concerns of the community and the personnel, board members and the firefighters themselves.”
Ron Prince, who has served as interim fire chief, will stay with the district as a consultant on a temporary basis.
“We are excited to welcome Aaron to the Aptos/La Selva family,” said Board President Joe Foster. “In addition to his wealth of experience, it was Aaron’s enthusiasm for the position and his desire to be a part of the community that shined through during the selection process.”
Lowe will move to Aptos once he starts his new role. He and his wife have been married for 17 years, and have two sons.