After an extensive candidate assessment process, City Manager Joyce Wilson announced today that Chief Samuel Peña has been selected to be the City's next Fire Chief.
Chief Peña has been an El Paso resident for 39 years and has17 years of service with the El Paso Fire Department. Chef Peña holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at El Paso and is a graduate of Austin High School. Chief Peña has been married for twenty-four (24) years and is a proud father and grandfather.
After serving four years with the United States Air Force, Chief Peña began his career with the El Paso Fire Department in 1995. Chief Peña worked his way up the ranks from firefighter to Acting Assistant Chief and worked in several divisions within the El Paso Fire Department. Chief Peña is currently assigned to the Acting Assistant Fire Chief position (see attachment).
Setting Chief Peña apart from the other internal candidates was his unique title of Advanced Medical Coordinator through the Department of State Health Services. In 2008, Chief Peña was recognized by the State of Texas and by the American Legion Post 74 as Firefighter of the Year. Additionally, Chief Peña was awarded a Good conduct medal for 17 years of Outstanding Service. His knowledge in the medical and firefighting field as well as his exemplary professionalism make him a shining example to the men and women he will be leading.
Chief Peña along with six other internal candidates participated in a comprehensive, inclusive assessment conducted by Ron Holifield with Strategic Government Resources, an independent consulting firm specializing in police and fire chief recruitment. The assessment included:
- A comprehensive questionnaire and individual interview with the consultant
- Panel interview with community leaders
- Mock media role play exercise
- Panel interview with internal City leaders
- Structured interview with executive staff
- One on one interview with the City Manager
At the conclusion of this process, Chief Peña emerged as the top candidate that met the vision and the needs of the department going forward. With the universal support of his peers, Chief Peña is ready to lead the El Paso Fire Department effective Sunday, March 10, 2013.
In announcing the appointment, Wilson said, "It was important to have a new chief who could continue to build on the great progress that occurred in the last four years while also refocusing on teambuilding, mentoring and succession planning. During this extensive process, Chief Peña not only showcased those qualities but his extensive depth of operational experience which includes both fire and medical set him apart from the other highly qualified candidates."
Additionally, the City would like to thank everyone who participated in this process; a special thank you to the very qualified candidates who made this extremely competitive and a difficult choice. Thank you to the men and women of the department who openly and honestly shared their desires for the next Fire Chief and to the community leaders and other city managers who gave their time to participate in the various stages of this assessment. This appointment reflects the collective voices of all who participated.