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Manhattan Beach Appoints New IT Director, Interim Fire Chief

Jul 15, 2020 12:13PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
The city of Manhattan Beach has appointed Terry Hackelman as its new Information Technology Director and Wolfgang Knabe as Interim Fire Chief.

“In these very uncertain times, our city needs experienced leaders to navigate the coronavirus pandemic while continuing to provide outstanding municipal services. I have confidence that Wolfgang Knabe and Terry Hackelman are up for the challenge and will provide the high level of service our community expects,” said City Manager Bruce Moe in a statement.

Wolfgang Knabe

Knabe will begin serving in the interim fire chief role on July 20. He has 40 years in the fire service, including close to 20 years in the rank of fire chief. He retired from the city of Fullerton as fire chief for the Brea-Fullerton Fire Department in 2018. Previously, Knabe worked for the San Luis City Fire Department and LAFD. Following his retirement, he most recently served as interim operations chief for the city of Santa Monica.

The appointment follows the dismissal of Manhattan Beach Fire Chief Daryn Drum last month. Knabe's appointment is set to last no longer than December 31, 2021, or until a permanent replacement for Drum is named.

The resolution approved by the city council read: "This appointment is critical for the continuity of efficient functioning of the fire department and in meeting the city’s priorities for the fire department, especially in the current state of emergency due to the COVID pandemic. Knabe is uniquely qualified to fulfill this interim assignment because of his specialized skills gained through training and experience during a long and successful career in fire department operations and management, including experience at the cities of Brea, Fullerton, San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles within their fire departments."

Knabe has an unusual tie to Manhattan Beach: He oversaw the launch of an Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team at Fullerton's fire department in 2007. Fullerton's USAR team is credited with saving the life of Manhattan Beach's Jon Wilhite, the lone survivor in the car crash that killed rookie Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart in April 2009.

Knabe told Behind the Badge that doctors told him that the USAR rescue team's specialized knowledge had saved Wilhite's life. “The doctor basically said if Wilhite had been moved the wrong way or if he hadn’t have been extricated the way he was, he would have died," he told the publication.

Terry Hackelman

Hackelman was the founder and managing principal of NexLevel, an IT management consulting firm that specializes in helping state and local governments plan, implement, manage, and govern technology solutions. He has worked as a senior vice president for SDI Presence LLC after it acquired NexLevel two years ago. At NexLevel and SDI, Hackelman worked with over 100 cities on their IT planning, governance, assessments, project and contract management, service delivery, system implementation, as well as other IT needs, for the past 20+ years.

He holds a degree in accounting and has passed the CPA and Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exams.

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