The wife of Española Interim Fire Chief Ron Padilla held the Bible as the Honorable Judge Stephen Salazar swore him into the Española Fire Chief position during an Aug. 25 City Council meeting.
“We placed him as interim fire chief as we were beginning to battle the COVID-19 pandemic,” Española Mayor Javier Sanchez said. “His true expertise, his humility and his great ability to shine even through that pandemic to an area that led us to truly recognize what a great fire chief he would make and in fact the great fire chief that he has been.”
Councilor Peggy Sue Martinez said she was pleased to see Padilla officially appointed as fire chief.
Councilor Manny Martinez offered the same sentiments as Peggy Sue Martinez. He said Padilla brings a lot of ethics, morals and values to the Department.
“I just want to commend Ron,” Councilor John Ramon Vigil said. “Ron has come up from the bottom of this Department and to my understanding he is one of the more senior members of the Department.”
Padilla said in an Aug. 26 interview that he began his career as a volunteer with the Chamita Fire Department before he joined the Española Fire Department in 1998. At that time, the Department was a combination department with three paid firefighters and a handful of volunteers.
Asked about his goals for the Department, Padilla said he wants to see more staffing and more training. There are currently 13 firefighters, and Department leaders are seeking two more.
A full staff will consist of 12 firefighters, three lieutenants, a deputy chief and a chief, he said.
“When you become a firefighter, it’s always a dream (to become the chief),” Padilla said. “It was something to shoot for and now I’m here.”
He thanked all the councilors during the council meeting on Aug. 25 for the dream come true.
Padilla also thanked his wife for “putting up” with him during the 22 years he has worked in the Department.
“It has been a great career here in the city of Española,” he said “I couldn’t ask for anything more. My dream has been fulfilled to work in the city and with the city and to be a firefighter here and with the people that I work with.”
Padilla said he is proud to be in the Valley.
“I moved into this Valley years back and I fell in love with it and I never moved back to Albuquerque,” Padilla said. “It’s been the greatest job in the whole world. It’s a gift to work here.”