SAN JOSE (KCBS) — Fire Chief William McDonald announced on Thursday that he will leave San Jose after three years of service, amid a contentious relationship with City Hall and layoffs, to become the chief in Las Vegas.

“This is a great organization, the people are awesome and I really loved my time here,” McDonald said in statement. “But this is a unique professional opportunity for me.”

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The first week that Willie McDonald, 55, took over as fire chief in 2010, after serving as fire chief in Scottsdale, Ariz., the city had just laid off 49 firefighters due to budget cuts.

Along with aid from federal grants, Williams was able to help rebuild the beleaguered department that is still recovering from layoff and pay cuts. He told KCBS in 2012 that San Jose did not have enough firefighters for a city of its size.

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“I think that really their dedication is what provides us to the ability to provide the level of service that we do,” Williams said last year.

McDonald is expected to accept his new job as the Las Vegas Chief later this summer. His departure leaves the city in the awkward and difficult position of searching for both a new police and fire chief at the same time.

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