San Luis Obispo fire chief announces retirement

September 19, 2018

Garret Olson

San Luis Obispo Fire Chief Garret Olson will retire from the city’s fire department next month following six years with the agency, the majority of which he spent as chief. [Cal Coast Times]

Olson’s 30-year firefighting career was spent mostly in Arizona, where he rose up the ranks in different departments from firefighter/paramedic to deputy chief and chief. In 2001, Olson was deployed to New York to assist with the recovery from the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

In 2011, Olson became chief of the Scottsdale Fire Department. The following year, he moved to SLO, serving initially as deputy chief. Then in 2013, Olson was promoted to SLO fire chief following the retirement of Charlie Hines.

Olson will officially retire on Oct. 30. Deputy Fire Chief Keith Aggson will then assume the role of interim chief.

“Our community has been incredibly fortunate to have a leader such as Garret, who has made immeasurable contributions to the safety of our community,” City Manager Derek Johnson said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more pleased with how the department has evolved and leadership Garret has demonstrated. With the recent completion of the five-year strategic plan, I feel confident in the future of the department.”

Olson said in a statement that he wishes he discovered SLO earlier.

“Serving this community has been the opportunity of a lifetime,” Olson said. “While I wish we had discovered SLO earlier in our lives, I believe my wife and I have an unsurpassed appreciation for this amazing community. I leave this long and wonderful career with a heart full of gratitude. It has been an incredible honor to serve. I look forward to many years of enjoying and giving back.”

Olson and his wife will continue to live in San Luis Obispo after the chief’s retirement.


It’s been days since I first read this story and I’m still trying to figure out how this guy was worth this kind of money for six years of service to SLO…


Wow this retirement plan is something else, how do you serve here in SLO for six years and retire with that kind of pension, how about the other department where he worked what are they kicking in,this can’t seem right that SLO pays 200,000 a year in retirement for someone thats only been here for six years. Not that I blame Olsen for this but the city needs to wake up and stop this crap hopefully Gurnee will be able to look into this and get something done.


Let’s start the pool! Where will the next one come from? My bet is Michigan! (Because you know we can’t just promote from within, we need the best and the brightest!)


I wonder if he’ll willingly give up most of his pension once the city can’t make the CalPERS payments. (Which will probably happen sooner than he thinks.)

Jorge Estrada

We can all have the same smile, congrats to Olson for making good choices.


Some of us just have more morals than others and feel stealing in any form is wrong.


Let’s see here he retires at 51 at about 90% of pay, say $200,000 per year for life which is going to be about 40 years, equals 8 million dollars. I am sure he is one of the nicest guys around, but an 8 million dollar retirement package, how does that make sense to anyone, that is more than the POTUS. Luckily I get social security of about $2500 per month when I retire at age 70


It’s only a matter of time but the pension deficit will most certainly put this city in bankruptcy. The City Manager will be next, probably before he turns 60; followed by the City Attorney, and on and on and on. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure this one out….but our elected officials are brain dead and have been for years when it comes to solving this problem; and why should they…..just kick the can down the road. We cannot build ourselves out of this mess.


Transparent California says in 2016 his total pay and benefits were $240,000. Retiring at 51. What will his yearly pension be?

Probably a nice guy, but another reason why we are broke.


Plus he is allowed to get another job, maybe as a consultant in the fire department, receive a full salary and not have his pension reduced, double dipping is alive and well.


Who wouldn’t be “happy to serve” with that pay?


What’s wrong with this picture? He works here for only a few years, is 51 or 52 and looks healthy, and gets to retire with a six-figure pension. Will probably find a new job, too. It’s stuff like this that makes many people resentful about public pensions. I’m not against pensions, but is this fair? Most public pensions are a third or a quarter or less of what his will be, and the people who are getting them have worked hard for us. This guy starred in a notorious Chamber of Commerce soft-porn skit that smacked of poor taste, bad judgment and sexual harassment.