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Mayor appoints interim fire chief

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Mayor Richard Berry on Tuesday announced the appointment of David Downey as the interim fire chief to succeed James Breen, who is retiring at the end of the year.

Downey has spent more than 20 years at the department. He is the deputy chief in charge of operations, emergency response and other programs.

AFD Interim Fire Chief David Downey

AFD Interim Fire Chief David Downey

In a news conference, Downey thanked Breen for his mentoring and said he would work to expand AFD’s emergency-response capability, among other goals.

“The Albuquerque Fire Department is one of the best fire departments in the United States,” he said.

Downey has completed the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program, the city said. He will make about $121,000 a year.

Breen said that Downey is a man of honor and integrity, and that “the community will be well-served” by the appointment.

Berry said he will decide early next year whether to launch a national search for a permanent fire chief. Downey said he intends to apply. Diego Arencón, president of the firefighters union, said he’s optimistic about working with Downey.

“The leadership role of the Albuquerque Fire Department is critical to public safety, and the safety of fire and rescue personnel,” Arencón said. “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.”

As for Breen, Berry said the outgoing chief has been a good steward of city resources and has much to be proud of. “He’s just done a tremendous job,” Berry said.

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