SANTA MARIA, Calif. -

Leonard Champion works hard every day but he was still caught by surprise when he got the nomination for Interim Fire Chief.

"Our Interim Chief Scott Kenley approached me one day and asked if I would be interested and I wasn't expecting that offer. I thought about it for a moment, and said I would be honored," says Champion.

Starting off as a reserve firefighter just like his dad, Champion has made his way through the department, making an impact on co-workers as well as the students he teaches at Hancock College.

"I get to kinda see the new generation coming up and instill some common, core beliefs of being in the fire service to those new and aspiring cadets," Champion explains.

Now Champion's job will change from 23 years of shift work to a regular 40 hour work week which makes his family really excited. "My mom and dad are very pleased and happy, my wife and family are very excited and supportive about this opportunity," Champion tells us.

One thing he hopes to change once he becomes Interim Chief is to improve mental health outreaches for his crew. "Any time you see a child that's been injured or killed, those are hard calls to deal with. As a profession we need to deal with that better, making sure that we have things in place to where that doesn't fester and bother us in our mental health for long term," Champion explains. 

Champion tells us once he becomes Interim Chief, he would like to create new short term and long term goals for his command staff and stresses he has a great team that will ensure he steps off on the right foot November 12th.