2017-03-29, Las Cruces Fire Chief Eric Enriquez

Our meeting began with a wonderful invocation, given with no advance notice by John Pickett.  President Christopher led the Pledge of Allegiance, and the flag was on the audience’s right at the front of the room!  (OK, I’m a nerd; you knew that.)  Earl Phillips led “Singing in the Rain.”  We waved instead of meeting and greeting as there was a very full program.

President Christopher introduced our student and guests.  Once again, John Hernández got the happy dollars going, “happy to be here!”  John Pickett invited everyone to a Friday event at Morningstar Methodist Church.  Daniel Payne was heading to the Final Four. 

We heard from Oñate senior Steven Lam. He plans to attend the University of Arizona for a bachelor’s degree leading him to medical school; he hopes to become a radiologist.  He noted that his parents were most influential in his life, instilling values of pride in their work and a work ethic that has them engaged seven days a week.  He believes it is important to help others; it not only helps them, it helps you to feel better about yourself.

President-elect Lya Jordan urged everyone to sign up for 2017-18 committees. 

The Program

Steve Loman introduced our speaker, Las Cruces Fire Chief Eric Enriquez.  Enriquez is a Las Cruces native, who attended Mesilla Elementary before moving to the north side of town, graduating from Mayfield High.  (He noted that he got a worse reception for that at Rotary than he did recently addressing the LCHS baseball team.)  After earning a BBA in Finance at NMSU, he became a fire fighter right away.  He later got police training to lead arson investigations, and worked several years as fire marshal and director of community services in Hobbs.  (Getting enthusiasm from his spouse for the move was tough, but she grew to like it and worked in the Lovington schools, earning a masters’ degree while they were in eastern New Mexico.)  He returned to Las Cruces as fire chief last year, and is very pleased to be home.

Enriquez talked briefly about the mission and values of the LCFD: a philosophy of teamwork and excellent customer services.  LCFD has an ISO rating of 1; only 97 departments in the country are so recognized.  This rating influences (positively) our homeowner’s insurance rates.  The department has 7 stations and 30 paramedics; there is a process to further train all the emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to the additional level of paramedic.  He is blessed with a strong senior leadership team of deputy chiefs and battalion chiefs.  Specialized units include a technical rescue team at station 6, at Roadrunner and Northrise, and a hazardous materials team at station 4, Missouri at Telshor. 

Changes on the horizon include a new station on the east mesa, as part of the public safety complex; adding three mobile squad units to add transport capabilities when ambulance service is not readily available, and a mobile integrated health program, working to help those who are frequent 911 callers by visiting them and coordinating with other agencies getting them the additional services they need.  Other plans include alternative response units, so a fire engine is not dispatched unless it is needed.  LCFD will take over inspections of the local public schools from the state fire marshal in July. 

There were a number of questions:  Steve Loman asked about physical training, and John Hernández noted that he had played basketball with a number of firefighters with great outside shots.  Mary Ellen McKay asked about the availability of Spanish speakers: it is a goal and incentives have been put in place to encourage this.  Jim Parks noted that the ISO rating is attractive to people outside the area looking to move here.  Jim also asked about programs for firefighters after disasters like the weekend fire that killed a toddler; Chief Enriquez briefly described the Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team. 

Blaine Goss asked about why law enforcement emphasizes “getting control” of a situation; the chief noted that officer safety is an issue of primary importance.  Daniel Payne asked about the effectiveness of improved fire codes; Chief Enriquez noted that there were only 207 fires among the over 17,000 calls to the fire department last year.  John Pickett described a visit to the park adjacent to station four, and how his son and grandson were welcomed by the firefighters: “a great experience!”  Bob Seaton asked about the requirements to be a firefighter.  The chief noted that there are 146 firefighters at this time and 12 more currently in the academy; there is a hope that they will have funds to hire all of them.  He joked that playing basketball and volleyball and cooking barbecue were pre-requisites.  The requirements include being at least 18 years old, having a high school diploma or GED and a drivers’ license, with a strong preference for EMT training.  The academy class of 12 was selected from over 200 applicants after an exam, an interview, and a polygraph, among other tests. 

After the Program

Patty Groth announced that we raised $63 for an additional RYLA student above our budget, and that the drawing pot for the next drawing (after we give away this $500) is already $162.  Mary Ellen had ticket 028, but drew the king of diamonds, so the search for a joker continues among the 20 remaining cards.  (Kristi Granados bought a long string of tickets to no avail!)  President Christopher led the Four-Way Test to close the meeting.  

<prior week   following week>

Guests of Rotarians

Guest 

Host

Trina Davis

Bobby Rankin

Terry McGinnity

Ted Shelton

Jeannell Montoya

Keith Houser

Gonzalo Soto

John Hernàndez

Visiting Rotarians

Rotarian

Home Club

none

 

Student Guests

Guest

School

Steven Lam

Oñate

Make-ups

Rotarian

Date Club

none

 

 

Birthdays-April

Member

Birthday

Daniel Payne

April 5

Fran Boldt

April 8

Gary Esslinger

April 8

John Pickett

April 11

Gary Aschbacher

April 21

Jim Maxon

April 22

Jay Jordan

April 26

Club Anniversaries-April

Member

Anniversary Tenure

Sherry Franzoy

April 4

5 years

Walter Baker

April 5

28 years

James M. Scott

April 14

46 years

Christopher Dulany

April 28

7 years

Jackie Becker

April 29

2 years

Patty Groth

April 30

3 years

Submitted by Bill HartyBill Harty