New Farmington fire chief shares short/long term vision for department

Sterrett has been working as the interim fire chief since April 1

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
Farmington Fire Chief Robert Sterrett poses in front of a display in the Farmington Fire Department administration building at 301 N. Auburn Ave.
  • Robert Sterrett was sworn in on Aug. 24 during a Farmington City Council meeting as the Farmington Fire Chief.
  • Sterrett has been with the fire department about 16 years, briefly working at a department in a suburb outside Fort Worth, Texas.
  • “Our call volume is increasing at a ridiculous rate,” Sterrett said.

FARMINGTON — The Farmington Fire Department’s new fire chief is eager to bring a new set of eyes to what he calls a “well trained” agency and is eager to get on-site training up and running again.

Robert Sterrett was sworn in on Aug. 24 during a Farmington City Council meeting as the Farmington Fire Chief.

Sterrett, the former deputy fire chief, has been operating as the interim fire chief since former Chief David Burke retired on April 1.

The new fire chief spoke to The Daily Times about his time at Farmington fire and his short/long terms goals with the agency.

Sterrett has been with the fire department about 16 years, briefly working at a department in a suburb outside Fort Worth, Texas.

He started as firefighter, working his way up into positions including engineer, Lt. Captain, Battalion Chief and Support Services Chief.

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Farmington Fire Chief Robert Sterrett, left, is having a pin attached to his coat by his wife Julie Sterrett, right, while being sworn in as fire chief during the Aug. 24 Farmington City Council meeting.

Sterrett said the title of fire chief doesn’t appear attainable for some firefighters so when the opportunity for the position arrived he wanted to go for it.

Sterrett said he believes he brings well-rounded experience to the position.

He said he didn't want to take away from the work of previous administrators, but Sterrett said he felt like there was a disconnect they had from not working field calls or line work.

“I think I will actually make a change in the organization and help it grow, to provide safety for the community,” Sterrett said.

When talking about the firefighters, the fire chief said he felt they are very well trained but he hopes to increase the number of outside trainings over some of the online training they have participated in since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our training is actually really good; we need to keep it up. And that perspective is something we've lost sight of,” Sterrett said.

For the future, Sterrett sees a rising call volume for the firefighters as its biggest challenge in the long term with medical calls being the majority of calls.

“Our call volume is increasing at a ridiculous rate,” Sterrett said.

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The new fire chief said even with the Alternative Response Unit is helping handle a large number of medical calls firefighters used to handle, the number of calls firefighters are handling is higher than when the program started.

The ARU's teams are comprised of an emergency medical technician and a driver using a repurposed Red Apple Transit bus to respond to calls, including down subjects who are intoxicated.

He hopes public education, including efforts for Fire Prevention Month in October and Emergency Preparedness Month in September, can communicate needed information to the public.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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