Interim tag removed for fire chief

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

John Bridges has been appointed to the position of fire chief for the Portales Fire Department, according to Portales City Manager Debi Lee.

“I’m just happy about it. John has served the Portales Fire Department well for the past many years,” Lee said.

Bridges’ appointment as chief was effective Monday, Lee said.

Employed at the Portales Fire Department for the past 19 years, Bridges has held several positions within the department, most recently as acting fire chief after former chief Raul Muniz left the department. Other positions held within the department include serving as a lieutenant, responsible for personnel training and development, battalion chief, responsible for daily shift operations and incident command, and EMS director/EMS division chief, responsible for EMS operations, according to a press release issued by the city of Portales.

“His leadership and energy and his drive to provide for the citizens is what we need. He’s done a great job and certainly earned his position,” Lee said.

Bridges and fellow candidate John McMahan, of Vail, Arizona were interviewed by a panel of community leaders and personnel in Portales on Friday.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of the chief’s position and taking the Portales Fire Department to the next level,” Bridges said.
Lee cited qualities of leadership, energy, commitment and community involvement as just a few of the characteristics that Bridges has. She also went on to explain that she polled two personnel from the fire department on what they needed and wanted to see in a fire chief. Their responses were: Aggressive, smart, strong leader, good communication skills, and community-oriented. Lee said those skills and traits define Bridges.

“It’s always nice when someone that has dedicated so many years of service to a profession is trusted with leading the department with new direction to serve the community and it’s citizens. I’m looking forward to new ideas and challenges,” said PFD secretary Brenda Fenton.

Bridges has several goals for the department, including public education, fire safety, and injury prevention. He said he will also be working to become involved with the schools and promoting public awareness.

“I think it’s very important for the chief to be out in the public,” Bridges said.