Nebraska man tapped for fire chief position

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County Council: Green light for making the hire may come at Tuesday meeting

By Carol A. Clark

Troy Hughes from Grand Island, Neb., stood out among five finalists invited to visit Los Alamos in late August to meet with county officials.

The in-depth process of interviews, examinations and evaluations eliminated all candidates but Hughes.

“I’m very excited  —  I think the Los Alamos Fire Department is one of the best in the nation,” said Hughes during an interview from Nebraska Friday. “I’m very honored to have been chosen to follow in the footsteps of two legendary fire chiefs — Doug MacDonald and Doug Tucker.”

Tucker served on the interview panel that selected Hughes.

“We also had a character consultant meet with the finalists,” said Tucker who retires Friday. “We wanted to make sure the person selected is the right fit for this department and for this community. After interviewing numerous individuals, Troy is the first one I felt that I could turn the department over to without any qualms.

“He is ethical and has a lot of integrity. He is not self-centered but rather is looking to help the department and not himself — he wants to be the coach and mentor of our department.”    

Los Alamos Police Chief Wayne Torpy, Acting Assistant County Administrator Steven Lynne and Acting County Administrator Randy Autio rounded out the panel. Autio made the final decision.

Autio will recommend Hughes for the position to the county council Tuesday night. The top LAFD post comes with an annual salary of $126,000.

Hughes said that he intends to attend that meeting, arriving in town by motorcycle today. If approved by council, Hughes said that he plans to leave his motorcycle, a BMW, in Los Alamos and take a plane back to Grand Island. He’ll return in time to start his new job Oct. 17.

Hughes, 47, has 26 years of experience in the fire service. He is chief of the Grand Island Fire Department, a 69-member, four-station department that responds to about 4,000 emergency medical calls and 130 fire calls annually.

Hughes joined the Grand Island Fire Department in 1985. He was promoted to captain in 1992, training division chief in 1998 and fire chief in 2008.

His education includes both a bachelor’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in management from Doane College.

His wife is a teacher and literacy coach for Grand Island Public Schools. The couple has two adult children.