Tucker Tapped For Fire Chief

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By Carol A. Clark

County Administrator Max Baker has appointed Deputy Fire Chief Doug Tucker to fire chief of the Los Alamos Fire Department.

“Doug is very qualified and prepared to be the Fire Chief for Los Alamos County,” Baker said. “His many years of experience both with the County as deputy fire chief and from his time with the Phoenix Fire Department have demonstrated an admirable career of that complete preparation.

“He has a tremendous commitment to the fire service and to having the Los Alamos Fire Department remain as an excellent department serving the needs of the community and our important stakeholders from the Laboratory and NNSA. I congratulate him on this promotion and look forward to his continued contributions,” Baker said.

Los Alamos Police Chief Wayne Torpy has worked on a variety of county and community related issues with Tucker for several years.

“Doug Tucker is without question fully qualified and in my opinion the right person to continue to lead the fire department following in the foot steps of Chief Doug MacDonald,” Torpy said.

Tucker spoke at length of his respect and admiration for MacDonald who he has worked side by side with for the last 15 years.

Tucker intends to continue building upon all the strides the department has made under MacDonald’s leadership and embrace future challenges.

“The nice thing about inheriting a department you’ve worked in for a long time is that you know the capabilities of the people there,” Tucker said. “And the quality of the firefighters and staff at LAFD are next to none.”

Tucker praised the leadership within the LAFD saying he spoke with them all and they are stepping up to the new challenges of a department in transition. “I just can’t say enough about how proud I am of our assistant fire chiefs Michael Thompson and Jerome Finn and our battalion chiefs Justin Grider, Justin Cassel, Edward Ortiz, Dennis Martinez, Richard Garcia, Juan Pacheco and Mark Sandoval.”

“My job is not to be the boss but to lead and to make sure the programs are in place and the budget is there to ensure every LAFD firefighter is trained, equipped and capable of meeting the challenges we encounter,” Tucker said. “We are in the process of receiving an unprecedented third accreditation and that is a tremendous undertaking.”

Tucker, 60, has dedicated 40 years to the fire service. He joined the Phoenix Fire Department in 1969 and was selected along with 11 others to become the first group of Rescue Medics in the State of Arizona.

That group, affectionately known as the “Dirty Dozen,” was trained to the level of Paramedic and went on to become the core group for the Technical Rescue Team.

As a paramedic captain, he received the PFD Award of Merit for his efforts in the development, training and dedication to the High Angle and Technical Rescue Team.

Tucker developed and led the SWAT-Medic Team and the Critical Stress Debriefing Team and along the way was awarded Paramedic of the Year.

He also helped to develop a nationally recognized Child Drowning Prevention Program for which he received the PFD Award of Merit.  

In 1994, he retired as a division chief from the Phoenix Fire Department, applied and became the assistant chief of operations for LAFD, returned to Phoenix to marry his wife Kelley and they bought a house and moved to Los Alamos all within two weeks.

Tucker has been offered fire chief positions through the 15 years he’s been with the LAFD by a number of fire departments aware of his expertise and abilities.

“I’ve always turned them down because I’ve been very content to serve as the number two man under Chief Mac,” Tucker said. “He is a remarkable man and has been an outstanding leader of this department. I’m going to miss him very much and the toughest challenge is going to be walkng into his office with him not being there. The good news is that he’s staying in Los Alamos and will remain an important resource.”

After the Cerro Grande Fire Tucker received a Los Alamos Achievement Award for his actions taken before the fire to mitigate the threat of wildfire to LANL’s DX and ESA Divisions. 

LAFD is the only Fire Department in the world to be twice accredited and to have received the Department of Energy’s Medal of Valor.

Tucker’s son is a captain with the Phoenix Fire Department and his daughter is vice president of a bank in northern California. His stepson is a senior at Los Alamos High School.

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4185 ext. 25. Read her newsblog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.