Socorro — Socorro is close to getting a Fire Chief. After an extensive search, a list of 36 potential candidates has been narrowed to a handful of finalists.
"The health and safety of Socorro is the number one priority for this administration," David Garcia, the city's spokesman said.
As part of that priority, developing a fire department is at the top of their list. But first they'll need a Fire Chief for the first time in Socorro history.
"The very first is to be effective, they got to know what they're doing," Garcia added.
The final 4 candidates have at least 20 years of fire service under their belts.
"I've been at fire service for right at 28 years. With the last 20 years with the City of Sattelite Beach in Florida," said Donald Hughes, a candidate who has experience both as a Fire Chief and as a paramedic.
Jim Langborg, a candidate from California also has similar experience, "I have over 10 years as a Chief Officer... I've got over 22 in Emergency Services, as a paramedic," Langborg says.
"I've run 3 different fire departments. I've managed large departments in Tucson, Arizona which had 750 employees and had a $75 million budget that I manage," Patrick Kelly, a finalist from Florida with served as Tucson, AZ Fire Chief from 2008 to 2011.
A familiar face has also thrown his name in the hat. Wade Warling just retired from El Paso's Fire Department as their Fire Chief, "I just finished a 40 year career if you will with the City of El Paso. The last 20 years as a Chief Officer," Warling tells News Channel 9.
The City of Socorro has been serviced primarily by volunteer Fire Fighters. District 2's Fire Chief has been overseeing the services. However, there are some limitations, "The best services aren't always available at just the right time. City Council worried about that and felt that the best way to use taxpayer dollars would be to expand the volunteer fire department," Garcia explains.
Expanding to a full time Fire Department for a growing and maturing city.
"Administrated by the City of Socorro, for the City of Socorro, in the City of Socorro," the spokesperson adds.
City officials say they'll use existing taxpayer money to pay for the full time department, "The money is already being collected in taxes so it's not a matter of it going up or moving, all we're going to do is take it from the state and put it in the City," Garcia says.
City officials hope to select the new Fire Chief within 2 weeks.