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Baltimore appoints new fire chief

Baltimore will have a new fire chief beginning Jan. 22.

Niles Ford, a 20-year firefighting and paramedic veteran, was appointed on Monday by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to head the Baltimore City Fire Department.

Ford’s career began in 1991 as a dispatcher at the Bessemer Fire & Rescue in Bessemer, Ala., where he also became a firefighter and a paramedic. He later became deputy fire chief of Fulton County, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta and then fire chief of Lincoln, Neb.

Ford comes to Baltimore from his post as city manager in Chamblee, Ga. Where he oversaw a $14 million budget.

“In selecting Dr. Ford, I believe we have found a dedicated public servant with a proven track record of results,” Rawlings-Blake said, in a statement. “He has spent the past 20 years driving the type of organizational change I believe is necessary to continue the positive reforms we have seen in Baltimore and to meet the challenges of the future.”

Ford has a doctorate degree in organization and management with a focus in human resource management from Capella University.

He was selected following a national search headed by a central Florida executive search firm hired by the city.

Chief James S. Clack, 52,the former fire chief, stepped down in June after five years in office.

“I am truly humbled by this opportunity to serve,” Ford said, in a statement. “I have long had a strong appreciation for this great city, specifically its fire department. To now have the opportunity to serve as fire chief is a responsibility I take very seriously and I pledge to use every ounce of my experience from the past 20 years to keep moving this department forward.”