After 20 years of watching Rio Rancho change, a deputy fire chief has moved on to new experiences.
Richard Doty, Rio Rancho Fire Rescue deputy chief until Sept. 22, has retired after 20 years with the department. He’s working as the operations manager for a nationwide private medical response company that has a large hub in Albuquerque.
“In a 20-plus year career, you run a lot of calls in which you impact people’s lives, and those always stand out to you,” he said, explaining he remembered a lot of stories. “You take a part of that with you, and I think that makes you better as you move forward in your career.”
Doty was born in Tacoma, Wash., and moved to the Albuquerque area in middle school. He worked for a private investigation service for six years in the 1990s and then went to the University of New Mexico for his bachelor’s degree.
About the time he graduated, a co-worker in the investigation service who was also a Rio Rancho Police officer encouraged Doty to join what was then the city’s Department of Public Safety. Department members served as police officers as well as firefighters and emergency medical technicians at the time.
The son of a law enforcement officer and interested in fire services, Doty liked the idea and was hired. However, about two months after he joined, he was told the department was splitting into police and fire departments, and could he chose one.
Doty picked the fire department, never attending a police academy, and rose through the ranks.
“It’s staggering, actually, how much the fire department has changed in that time,” he said.
He served as incident commander when a six-story scaffolding collapsed during construction at Presbyterian Rust Medical Center in August 2015, injuring eight workers, one of whom eventually died.
“That was a big event in Rio Rancho history,” Doty said.
He also was the incident commander managing visits from two presidents, Barack Obama in 2009 and Donald Trump last year.
“I spear-headed the professional development program, not just in Rio Rancho, but across the state,” he recalled of another career highlight.
Doty and now-Albuquerque Fire Chief Paul Dow worked on the program to serve both departments about a decade ago. The goal was to make sure all firefighters get the proper training before promotion into a given position.
Departments across New Mexico use the result of their years-long effort, and the program is frequently updated.
Doty decided now was the time to retire because the programs he helped create needed someone new looking at them to make sure they stayed as effective as possible, and he wanted to explore new things.
“I felt like I had gone as far as I could in Rio Rancho, and it’s always good to have fresh eyes,” he said.
He started his new job the week after he retired from the fire department.
“I like to remain really busy and really active, and I wanted to get started with the new organization,” Doty said.
He said he would most miss the relationships he’d developed with his co-workers, who are like brothers and sisters to him, in the fire department.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to serve the citizens of Rio Rancho,” Doty said. “And hopefully I’ve made a positive impact on the community and the fire service in my 20-year career.”