Burke served as interim fire chief after Terry Page retired

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FARMINGTON — The Farmington Fire Department has a new permanent fire chief after interim chief David Burke was selected for the position earlier this week.

Burke was selected Tuesday after three finalists for the job were interviewed by three assessment panels, Farmington City Manager Rob Mayes said.

The City of Farmington employed an executive search firm to conduct a nationwide search after former Fire Chief Terry Page retired at the end of last year.

Twenty applicants made it through the first phase of qualifications, then the list was narrowed down to 10 semi-finalists and seven finalists were selected, Mayes said.

Some of the finalists bowed out of the process after receiving other job offers.

Burke was the top candidate recommended by the three assessment panels.

"He did an outstanding job as acting fire chief," Mayes said.

The new fire chief has been with Farmington fire for more than 20 years and previously spent time as a firefighter in the Durango and Cortez area in Colorado.

He started as firefighter and worked his way up to deputy fire chief, a role he had for more than four years.

"It's still a little surreal but I’m excited about the opportunity moving forward to serve the community and make it a safer place to live," Burke said.

Burke's top priority is serving the community and hopes to find ways to help the residents become more proactive and prevent some of the incidents firefighters are dispatched on

He also plans to examine data from the department and determine what are the most frequent call types firefighters are dispatched and work with the community on those areas of concern.

Some of the areas of concern including making sure smoke detectors are installed and fall or trip hazards are addressed.

The safety of firefighters is another important topic for Burke following the death of Lt. Jacob Shadd Rohwer, who died of cancer on Jan. 11.

Officials say Rohwer cancer was presumably caused by exposure to hazardous chemicals encountered in the line of duty.

"It really brought to light our need to continue to work to make it as safe a work environment as possible for our employees," Burke said.

Burke also plans to manage the department's budget in a transparent and effective manner to make the best use of the taxpayers' funds.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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