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Fire chief's first day was a doozy

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By Carol A. Clark

Fire Chief Troy Hughes woke up early Monday morning, went for his typical three-mile run near his White Rock home and then made his way to his new office at the Fire Administration Building on East Road.

That first day was a doozy for the new chief.

“I spent a lot of time meeting people and learning the ins and outs of the department,” said Hughes who ended his first day at nearly 8 p.m., picking up food at Smith’s on Central Avenue.

Hughes, 47, packed up and headed for Los Alamos last weekend after spending nearly 27 years with the Grand Island Fire Department in Nebraska, serving as chief since 2008.

He was officially named Los Alamos County fire chief Sept. 27 during a county council meeting. His last day with the Grand Island department was Oct. 12.

He went to elementary school and graduated high school in Grand Island. While it is difficult to leave because there are great people in Grand Island, he said his new job offers him many opportunities and interesting challenges.

LAFD is the second largest career fire department in the state of New Mexico with six stations and a 139-member firefighting/emergency medical service department. The department also has more resources and is responsible for protecting Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Hughes was selected from a pool of 19 applicants and among five finalists interviewed in August. Former Fire Chief Doug Tucker praised Hughes at the time saying, “I know that I am leaving the Los Alamos Fire Department in good hands. One of the biggest challenges for Troy or anyone who is filling this position will be coming up to speed on the DOE contract to provide fire services to LANL, but I have every confidence that he will lead this department in the right direction in the future. He has a great deal of management experience and the right leadership skills for the job.”

Before leaving Grand Island, Mayor Jay Vavricek said, “I’ve always appreciated Troy’s professionalism, expertise, devotion and long-standing friendship.

“Aside from his dedication to the city of Grand Island, Troy has helped build a stronger community and his leadership will long be admired.

“I’m confident of his success in a new home as he accepts new responsibilities important to national security and first responders,” according to a report in The Independent.

Hughes has been a fan of the natural beauty and culture in New Mexico for a long time, he said, adding that his favorite outdoor activities include hiking, biking and riding motorcycles.

While in town last month, Hughes hiked the Blue Dot Trail and the trails at Tsankawi, he said, adding that he plans to spend a lot of his free time outdoors to know the community better.

Hughes also said that being active in the community where he lives is important to him.

He intends to get involved locally through Leadership Los Alamos and the Rotary Club.

Hughes is residing in temporary housing in White Rock until his wife Jodi, who works in the Grand Island schools as a learning facilitator joins him when her contract ends next spring.