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CAL FIRE Opens Recruitment for CIO at Pivotal Time

The state’s fire department is updating its strategic plan for next year, due to be rolled out in summer 2024. The new CIO, who will also serve as assistant deputy director for technology, is key to that effort.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) is recruiting for a chief information officer who will also serve as assistant deputy director for IT. The position is classified as a Career Executive Assignment.

CAL FIRE describes itself as “California’s fire department and resource management agency,” with nearly 10,300 permanent and seasonal employees. The CIO manages the 174 IT and telecom professionals in the IT Services and Telecommunications Office (ITS), which supports the department’s programs, strategic goals, business objectives and management principles, according to the job posting.

“The incumbent is responsible for directing, planning, organizing and controlling all ITS activities,” the posting says. The CIO formulates and implements IT policies and practices and is responsible for the department’s Strategic IT Plan.

The CIO position has been open since January, when former CIO Jay Song took the role of chief technology officer for the California Highway Patrol. Song had been CAL FIRE’s CIO for three years, since January 2020, and he was featured in an Industry Insider — California “One-on-One” interview in July 2020.

Desirable qualifications for the position, according to the posting, include:
  • Demonstrated examples of your experience leading diverse teams and managing complex IT projects. Describe your approach to fostering a collaborative work environment, empowering team members, and driving them toward achieving organizational goals. Additionally, please share any instances where you have demonstrated strategic thinking and decision-making abilities to guide a company’s technology direction.
  • Demonstrated expertise in various technologies, platforms and software relevant to the role of a chief information officer. Include your experience in areas such as enterprise architecture, cybersecurity, data management, cloud computing and software development.
  • Demonstrated experience in effectively conveying technical concepts to both technical and nontechnical audiences. Please provide examples of your ability to listen actively, present information clearly and collaborate with stakeholders at all levels of an organization. Additionally, share any instances where you have successfully managed conflicts or resolved issues through effective communication.
  • Demonstrated experience in aligning IT initiatives with overall business objectives. Describe any instances where you have identified opportunities for growth, streamlined processes or improved efficiency through the implementation of technology solutions. Furthermore, please share your approach to evaluating and prioritizing IT investments to ensure maximum return on investment for the organization.
  • Demonstrated experience in fostering a culture of innovation within an organization. Please provide examples of how you have encouraged creative thinking, identified emerging technologies and implemented innovative solutions to address business challenges. Additionally, share your approach to staying informed on industry trends and best practices, and how you apply this knowledge to drive continuous improvement within your organization.

The position has a monthly salary range of $9,471 to $13,301, and the application deadline is May 25.

The CIO recruitment comes at a potentially pivotal time for the department: Beginning last month and through the end of June, it is seeking public comment and suggestions on its 2024 strategic plan. According to CAL FIRE’s timeline, it will send the final draft to the publisher in March 2024, with final plan rollout set for July 2024. The department, like many, uses multiyear strategic plans; it last updated its multiyear plan in 2019.
Dennis Noone is Executive Editor of Industry Insider. He is a career journalist, having worked at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies including USA Today in Washington, D.C.