By MIKE COOK
Las Cruces Bulletin
Las Cruces Fire Chief Eric Enriquez has been accepted into the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Fire Service Executive Development Institute, where he will join his peers from throughout the United States and Canada in a year-long leadership development program.
Enriquez said the institute is “an opportunity for fire chiefs to learn more about leadership trends and technologies” and to deal with “all the challenges we’re faced with day to day,” including budgets, staffing, fleet and equipment.
Enriquez said learning with fire chiefs from departments in big cities and small towns in two countries will allow him to interact with people who have “seen everything – all the challenges that face the leadership of the fire service,” including how to lead during non-emergency situations.
“When we do have an emergency, we are all trained and prepared and ready to go,” Enriquez said.
The institute will involve some travel, including the week-long first session in April in Leesburg, Virginia. Enriquez said he is “not a big fan of traveling. I’m more of a homebody, (but) you’ve got to set the example of leadership,” he said.
Enriquez became fire chief eight months ago, when Travis Brown retired. He touts department innovations such as online training and a mobile integrated-health pilot program.
The department’s recent 30th-annual training academy graduated 24 new fire fighters, all of whom passed the emergency medical technician portions of their exams, he said. The department is now hiring for Academy #31, which will include 12 cadets who are already EMT certified.
With the new cadets, the department has 141 firefighters. There are seven fire stations across the city, with an eighth opening at the East Mesa Public Safety Complex in March.
The department completed a national nozzle forward training program in November with other departments that taught “enhanced firefighting skills and tactics,” Enriquez said.
“Our goal is to bring the department forward.”
Mike Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.