SAN LUIS, Ariz. – In his career, Enrique Lopez has fought fires, handled hazardous materials and taken care of the injured.

Now he's supervising the firefighters doing those tasks.

Lopez recently was promoted to assistant chief of the San Luis Fire Department he joined 14 years ago.

As second-in-command of a department of 45, he says, his responsibility will be overseeing the agency's firefighting and hazardous material handling functions, ambulance services and other tasks as assigned by the fire chief.

"It's a challenge, a big challenge," he said, "but I feel up to the challenge."

Lopez "has been an excellent employee and brings a wealth of knowledge to the position," Fire Chief Angel Ramirez said. "He is always looking out for the well-being of his staff and people in the community, and he will do an excellent job as assistant fire chief."

He had been working for Sun Valley Beverage in Yuma when he applied to join the fire department in San Luis in 2005.

"My initial inspiration was to help others," he said of the transition. "I think it's a very rewarding job when you can go out and assist someone in need."

He started out as a hazardous materials technician for the department and became a paramedic four years later. He had served 8-1/2 years as a captain in the department at the time of his recent promotion.

Apart from the training he has gained in the field, Lopez has an associate's degree in paramedicine and has earned certification as a public manager, having completed Arizona State University's Bob Ramsey Executive Education program. He also successfully completed the Arizona Fire Chiefs Association's Regional Battalion Chief Academy.

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