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Camp Pendleton Fire Chief retires after 31 years of service

Camp Pendleton’s Fire Chief William Frankel said good-bye to the base during a small ceremony at Fire Station One, on March 1, after more than 31 years of service.

Frankel has had an extensive firefighting career that started in 1976 as a U.S. Forest Service Firefighter in Cleveland National Forest, Calif.

In 1983 he left the Forest Service to join Camp Pendleton’s Fire and Emergency Services department.

“It’s been a long career,” said Frankel. “And the firefighters I tried to emulate were the old-time chiefs. Throughout my career I saw how they had such a strong willingness to work and how they always put the department, and more importantly, its firefighters first. Their leadership helped me to establish goals and work toward them every day,” he said.

Frankel continued by saying although it was the Chiefs that taught him how to become a better leader, it was the firefighters he served with who inspired him the most.

“Just like in the Marine Corps, small unit leadership is key, and my guys exemplify it,” Frankel said. “It’s one of the many reasons that make this the best department in the (Department of Defense).”

For his many years of faithful service, Frankel was presented with the Commendation for Meritorious Civilian Service Medal by Col. Stephen Dinauer, commanding officer, Security Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

“Your stewardship is representative of the highest ideals of firefighting professionals, selflessly dedicated to saving lives and community,” Dinauer said.

For the firefighters that know him best, Frankel has exemplified leadership even during the most trying times.

“He’s always been calm and collected, making it easier to do our job,” said Jeff Wilkerson, the deputy fire chief, CPFES. “During the Juliet fires in 2008, Chief Frankel kept everyone level-headed by staying calm and making sure everyone stayed safe while the fire was put out. His leadership and knowledge from 30 plus years of experience firefighting will be missed here without a doubt,” he said.

Since Frankel and his firefighters saved so many lives and structures during his time serving here, he can leave the base with his head held high, knowing his years protecting the base were well spent.

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