Fire chief candidates to interview Friday

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

Interviews for the position of Portales Fire Chief will take place on Friday in Portales.

According to Portales City Manager Debi Lee, the position for fire chief became available after the former chief, Raul Muniz left Portales to move to Arizona to further pursue his education.

Retired from the New York Fire Department, Muniz brought a career’s worth of experience and training to the department. While serving as chief, Muniz was instrumental in reorganizing the department, maintaining the department’s ISO rating and developing a new policy and procedures manual, Lee said.

“He did a lot. He did some good things for the department,” Lee said of Muniz.

Two candidates have applied for the position of fire chief. They are Portales local John Bridges, who is currently the acting chief and is also the Battalion Chief responsible for EMS at the department. The second candidate is John McMahan of Vail, Ariz., an officer with the Rural Metro Fire Department in Veil, Lee said.

“Both of these are good strong candidates and they have much to offer,” Lee said.

Qualities that the interview committee, comprised of local community and business leaders, will be assessing include: leadership skills, willingness to be involved in the community and community service, willingness to stay in the area and skills in both fire and EMS, Lee said.

In an e-mail received from a fellow officer who previously worked with McMahan at a substation in Tucson, McMahan is described as having the ability to respond to many different situations that may arise.

McMahan holds a degree in Fire Science and Para-medicine from Pima Community College. Bridges brings 18-plus years of experience and education to the position. Bridges also works part-time at Roosevelt General Hospital in the cardio-pulmonary department, Lee said.

A decision on the position is expected sometime next week, according to Lee. Background checks, and a more detailed discussion will ensue after the candidates are interviewed, said Lee.

“They’re a great department. Very well trained, competent, professional, and they need someone to get involved and stay with the department,” Lee said.