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AFR Fire Chief Paul Dow Announces Retirement after Decades of Service, Fire Marshal Gene Gallegos to Step In As Interim Fire Chief

Chief Paul Dow announces his retirement after serving the community for over 24 years.

April 14, 2021

Paul W. Dow to retire as Albuquerque Fire Rescue Chief. Mayor Tim Keller appointed Chief Dow from within the department early on in his administration in January 2018. After decades of public service, Dow will retire and plans to relocate to another state for family reasons.

“Chief Dow has been a super star Chief for our city. His wealth of knowledge and skills have saved lives in our city and helped make sure our first responders have the resources they need to stay safe,” said Mayor Keller. “Under his leadership, AFR became a national leader in cancer prevention for firefighters, he reinvigorated frontline morale and implemented innovative programs like HEART and ADAPT, and brought home millions of capital dollars to replace equipment. We are also grateful that Gene Gallegos, who has stepped up time and time again during the pandemic, will provide a smooth transition by taking on the role of Interim Fire Chief.”

"It has been an honor to serve as the Fire Chief for the City of Albuquerque these past few years, and I appreciate the strong support that the Keller Administration has always given AFR. However, after more than 24 years as a firefighter, I will retire on Friday, April 23, 2021. I am excited to retire and will be moving out of state to spend more time with my family. The fire service, this department, and the firefighters who serve our community mean so much to me. The Department is in a great spot right now, and it is time for me to move on." said Chief Dow.

Under Chief Dow's leadership, the department has achieved the following:

AFR reduced the overall annual call volume by collaborating with several other agencies and redistributing resources to non-emergency calls. Lower annual call volume helps to improve emergency apparatus availability and improves response times.
AFR created 72 new positions within the department to staff additional emergency apparatus, increase staffing in the Fire Marshal's Office, and start several new programs. These new programs include HEART, ADAPT, and the Public Affairs Office.
AFR added millions of dollars in new apparatus and equipment.
AFR implemented cancer prevention best practices to protect the firefighters. These include adding interstitial spaces between the apparatus bays and living quarters of the firehouse, annual physicals for all 729 firefighters, washers and dryers in the firehouse, and new equipment to decontaminate firefighters at the fire scene.
In collaboration with UNMH, AFR started the nation's first mobile ECMO transport unit to treat cardiac arrest patients.
AFR revamped the Fleet Division by hiring additional support staff and mechanics. The department also opened a new Fleet Maintenance Facility in the spring of 2020.
AFR maintained its Class 1 rating for fire protection through the Insurance Services Office (ISO) ISO currently evaluates close to 50,000 fire departments nationwide, with only 348 earning the honor of a Class 1 rating.
In the fall of 2020, AFR opened a newly rebuilt Fire Station 9.

"AFR is full of exceptional leaders at every level, and I am proud to have been a part of this department for so many years", said Chief Dow.

Upon Chief Dow's retirement, Deputy Chief Gene Gallegos will serve as interim Fire Chief. Deputy Chief Gallegos has been a member of Albuquerque Fire Rescue since 2000 and has spent the last three years as the Fire Marshal. As Fire Marshal, Gallegos stepped up throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to assist local businesses, schools and other facilities understand and comply with occupancy limits, develop COVID-safe practices and more.

Gallegos has served in many roles throughout his time with the department including, Training Division Battalion Chief in charge of the Cadet Training Program, Dispatcher, Paramedic, Cadet Instructor, Professional Development Instructor, and Fire Marshal Inspector.

Deputy Chief Gallegos said, “I am humbled and honored for the opportunity to become the interim Fire Chief for Albuquerque Fire Rescue. Fire Chief Dow built a strong foundation that I will continue to build upon with my team to move our department forward. With the hard work of our current Fire Administration, as well as from the future leaders in our department, we will continue to uphold the mission of Albuquerque Fire Rescue, to serve our amazing community and city.”