Fire Chief Shapes His Command Staff

Albuquerque Fire Chief James Breen established his command staff Thursday by promoting 18 firefighters including two deputy chiefs.The promotions of David Downey and Tige Watson are Breen’s first deputy chief appointments in his administration. Two commanders, a captain, four lieutenants and seven drivers were also promoted Thursday in a ceremony at the Albuquerque Fire Academy.

“These firefighters are a perfect example of what it means to be a member of the Albuquerque Fire Department,” Breen said. “They are all committed to saving lives and protecting the public they serve at all costs.”

Watson, 41, is the third African-American in the department’s history to reach the rank of deputy chief. Watson joined the Albuquerque Fire Department in 1992 and has been a paramedic for more than 15 years. As a paramedic he served at Station No. 5, one of the city’s busiest stations located in the Southeast Heights. Watson was also a quality improvement officer and as a captain he was responsible for fire suppression and cadet training at AFD’s Fire Academy. Most recently, Watson has been the EMS division commander for the past four years and was responsible for EMS delivery, records management, emergency preparedness and quality improvement. In his new position, Watson will be in charge of emergency medical service and communications.

Downey has been an Albuquerque firefighter since 1993. Most recently Downey has been a commander for the past five years and was in charge of AFD’s Training and Special Operations Division. Prior to being promoted to commander, Downey was the captain of Station No. 1 located in Downtown Albuquerque. Downey has also worked on Ladder 3, been an instructor and a fire marshal inspector. In his new position, Downey will be in charge of the department’s operations division.

Downey and Watson were promoted because longtime firefighters Richard Sears and Craig Sadberry retired. Sears and Sadberry had been deputy chiefs for several years. Lieutenant Kenneth Goodyear, Lieutenant Daniel Harada, Driver Sam Sanchez, Driver Eulogio Lucero, and Firefighter Rex Urbany also recently announced their retirements opening several positions within the ranks.

“It was an honor to serve with both Craig and Richard for the past ten months,” Breen said. “It was extremely helpful as a new chief to work with a command staff with such a wealth of knowledge.”

Also promoted were: Commanders Jon Sigurdson, Pasquale Gallucci; Captain Paul Dow; Lieutenants Michael Baca, Raymond Gutierrez, Daniel French, Robert Spella; Drivers Matthew Blanchfield, Michael Haynes, Colby Buffington, Khalil Zamir, Mark Lueras, William Manus and Michael Kolbusz.