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Aurora city manager names next fire chief

The Aurora City Council must confirm the city manager's selection of Alec Oughton as the next fire chief.
Credit: City of Aurora
Alec Oughton

AURORA, Colo. — Aurora's city manager has selected the next chief of Aurora Fire Rescue (AFD), pending city council confirmation. 

City Manager Jim Twombly selected Alec Oughton, fire chief of the Henrico County, Virginia, Division of Fire, as Aurora’s next fire chief pending the council’s confirmation at its regular meeting on Jan. 30. 

“Chief Oughton brings a wealth of experience from a similarly sized department, and a similarly sized and diverse portion of the Greater Richmond, Va., area,” Twombly said in a news release. “I found his engagement with Aurora community members, council members and me to be authentic and genuine, and I believe he will garner the support of our dedicated fire personnel and the Aurora community. He is committed to our ongoing public safety changes and will add a new perspective to our work.” 

Oughton was one of four finalists for the position. The others were Richard Davis, assistant chief of the fire department in Austin, Texas; Allen Robnett, interim fire chief of Aurora Fire Rescue; and Froilan “Pepper” Valdez, fire chief of the fire department in Billings, Montana.

“I am humbled to have been selected to serve the city of Aurora as your fire chief. The pool of candidates was remarkable, and each one brought significant experience, great ideas, and their heart for service to the process,” Oughton said in the release. “I fell in love with this area in 2007, when riding through it as part of a pediatric cancer research fundraiser. It is a beautiful area with amazing people, and I’ve felt a strong pull toward this community since. I truly look forward to connecting with, and caring for, Aurora’s residents and Aurora’s firefighters.”

The Denver Gazette reports former fire chief Fernando Gray, who served AFD for five years, left in July for a new role with the Las Vegas fire department. During Gray’s time helming the department, Aurora was thrust into the national spotlight as protests took place across the country, bringing heightened attention to the 2019 death of Elijah McClain.

The fire department, along with the city’s police department, also became subject to a five-year consent decree that requires numerous public safety reforms. The city stopped its use of ketamine, and the city council has recently debated banning the use of new sedatives, as well as chemical restraints.

The city said 36 people applied for the chief position. A panel of nine community leaders identified nine semi-finalists, and a city management panel conducted semi-finalist interviews to narrow the pool of candidates to four finalists.

If confirmed by the city council, Oughton is scheduled to start at AFD on March 13, pending the finalization of an employment agreement. 


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