Templeton fire Chief Jim Langborg plans to leave the department he’s led for a little more than two years for another job he says is too good to pass up.
Langborg, who has overseen Templeton’s 25-person volunteer fire department since July 2010, was offered a position to lead a new fire department in Socorro, Texas, a small town close to the southern border of New Mexico.
He announced his plans Monday to the Templeton Community Services District Board of Directors via email.
“It was a huge decision and very difficult to make,” he wrote to the five-member board. “After many discussions with some mentors, colleagues, family members and friends I realized this is an opportunity that will probably never present itself again.”
He hopes to work through the end of November, he said.
Langborg, 46, told The Tribune he wasn’t looking to leave the department, but when he saw an ad that said something along the lines of “build a fire department from the ground up,” he said, he decided to try.
“Honestly, I never expected to get it,” he added.
Information on what the district plans to do next wasn’t immediately available, although General Manager Jeff Hodge said hiring a new chief is a task facing the new board after the November election.
Langborg, who has nearly two decades of experience in fire and emergency medical services, took the helm of Templeton’s fire department after the retirement of longtime chief Greg O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan is now serving on the district’s board of directors.
Langborg came from Arizona, where he served as a deputy chief at the White Mountain Apache Fire & Rescue Department in Whiteriver, Ariz.
In his short time managing the department, Langborg has seen it undergo several changes, which he said is one of the reasons it’s so tough to leave.
He believes the small department is on the cusp of change — namely, one that could soon bring permanent firefighters to the organization.
He’s begun to move the department in that direction by obtaining a federal grant to hire a volunteer coordinator, remodel the fire station’s upstairs to create sleeping quarters and start an interim training program to teach people how to be firefighters, he said.
As Templeton’s last two firefighter recruiting sessions have shown, Templeton residents’ availability to serve is dwindling. More applications have been received from San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles and Atascadero, Langborg said. One volunteer firefighter even drives up from Southern California to work a shift just to get the experience.
Langborg has also helped develop a regional facility for emergency response training on the east side of town. For about the last year, progress has been made to get permits for shipping containers that will be stacked together to create fake walls, blackened rooms and obstacle courses. The structures will allow for drills by multiple agencies throughout San Luis Obispo County.