New chief veteran firefighter

By Mike Linn: CNJ news editor

Assistant Fire Chief Ray Westerman will be appointed Clovis’ new fire chief on Thursday.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said Westerman, who will take over for Ron Edwards, who after 31 years in the department will retire on Friday.

Westerman, who has been with the Clovis Fire Department almost 30 years, said it’s an honor to be able to head a 71-man department dedicated to public service.

“These are ordinary people who come together and do extraordinary things,” he said.

Westerman started with the department in January of 1975 as a firefighter and has received several promotions over his career. Edwards promoted him to assistant fire chief in April 2003.

There will be a promotional and pinning ceremony at 2 p.m. on Thursday at the Bert Cabiness Government Center Assembly Room at city hall.

Westerman said he has no short-term plans to retire and hopes to increase staffing over time to handle an influx in out-of-town ambulance service.

Westerman said there has been a 15-percent increase in out-of-town ambulance service this past year, an increase not unusual for a community such as Clovis which is growing.

“Chief Westerman openly promotes innovative thinking, effective action and excellent performance,” City Manager Ray Mondragon said in a Tuesday press release. “(He) is prepared to provide the best fire protection and ambulance service to the citizens of Clovis and surrounding communities for several years.”

Westerman is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, received the Distinguished Supervisor of the Quarter award in 2003, and was selected Fraternal Order of Eagles Firefighter of the Year in 1995.