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Mayor names interim fire chief

Created: 12/24/2013 6:12 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Albuquerque’s Fire Department has a new leader. Tuesday, Mayor Richard Berry named Dave Downey the department’s interim fire chief. Downy has been with the department for two decades and has been a deputy chief for the past three. The mayor said his experience and ambition will build on Chief James Breen’s past work.

“He's a true believer in the Albuquerque Fire Department, he knows what he's doing, he's good at what he does,” Berry said.

Chief Breen will remain in charge until December 31. Downey takes the reigns after that. It means both the fire department and police department will start 2014 with temporary bosses.

When acting Albuquerque Police Department Chief Allen Banks was sworn in in August, he was coy about whether he wanted to keep the job.

"Here in a couple months we'll make that decision. Me and my family, they're first and foremost,” Banks said.

Tuesday, acting fire chief Dave Downey took a different tone.

“Absolutely, yes. Given the opportunity, yes sir, yep,” Downey said.

Both men have support from their respective unions. The firefighters’ union released a statement Tuesday, saying:

“The leadership role of the Albuquerque Fire Department is critical to public safety and the safety of fire and rescue personnel. We are optimistic and trust this will provide a new direction for our department. We look forward to working together in providing the very best Fire and Emergency Medical service for the citizens of Albuquerque.”

On interim Chief Allen Banks, the Albuquerque Police Officers Association President Stephanie Lopez said "I think he's doing an excellent job, he's doing his very, very best with what he's allowed to do and what he's capable of doing at this time right now."

But the decision is up to the mayor’s office and they’re taking their time making it. A spokesperson for the city says they’d like to pick a police chief by next month but weeks ago, they didn’t have a shortlist. They say they’re still deciding how to conduct a fire chief search, but while they do that, acting chief Downey won’t waste time trying to make his mark.

“Chief Breen set great direction for the department I'm gonna continue to move us in that direction,” Downey said.


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