EL PASO — El Paso City Manager Joyce Wilson announced the new El Paso Fire Department Fire Chief Thursday. He is Samuel Peña. The announcement took place on the second floor of City Hall.
Chief Carlos Carmona has been serving as the interim fire chief since November 23, 2012.
It was back on October that a letter of resignation from Fire Chief Otto Drozd announced his plans to depart the El Paso Fire Department effective November 23.
The Chief said he planned on returning to his home state of Florida as Fire Chief of the Orange County Fire Rescue Department, which oversees the largest county in Florida, including Orlando and the Disneyworld complexes.
"Today is not only the beginning of the future for the El Paso Fire Department with a great leader, but I also think it's a reflection of the legacy of Former Chief Drozd," City Manager Joyce Wilson said.
Wilson said during the three years Drozd was chief, he was tasked with mentoring and training the men and women of the department so that they would be prepared to one day replace him.
Mayor John Cook had very specific instructions for Wilson in the search for a new fire chief.
"I don't want you to go and look from outside the department until you've proven that we don't have any good candidates from within. I want to hire from within," said Mayor Cook.
Peña faced six other candidates from within the El Paso Fire Department, include Assistant Fire Chief Carlos Carmona who worked alongside Peña for many years. Although Carmona did not get the position, he believes the department is in good hands.
"He has proven himself throughout his entire career to be one of the best leaders, best firefighters in all aspects," said Carmona.
Mayor John Cook also said he has high hopes for the El Paso Fire Department's new leader.
"He's inheriting a wonderful dept. it's probably ranked as number three in the country and my challenge to him privately was get us to number one and he said he would," said Mayor Cook.
Chief Peña said he plans on working with fire departments in the county as well as volunteer fire departments to collaborate efforts to meet the needs of the community. He said another goal of his administration is to recruit female firefighters.
"To get the word out that females are capable of doing this job and are actually a vital demographic in meeting the needs of our community," said Peña.
Chief Peña begins his new role on Sunday, March 10.