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Former chief returns to lead AFD

By MJ Thim 8:55 PM May 12, 2014

He retired eight years ago, but now he’s back on the job as chief of the Anchorage Fire Department.

John Fullenwider officially took over, or back, the job as chief during a change of command ceremony Monday morning.

“Was it a surprise to me? You bet it was,” Fullenwider said.

He said he agreed to come back after Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan called him.

“It was pretty obvious to me he needed a fire chief. He needed somebody he trusted and somebody who had some experience,” he said.

Fullenwider replaced Chris Bushue.

Bushue unexpectedly announced his desire to step down last month. After three years as the leader of AFD, he said he needed a change from the 24/7 responsibilities.

It wasn’t an easy decision, Bushue said.

“When I thought of stepping down, the biggest trepidation or angst was who where they going to find to replace me,” he said. “When I heard they were looking at John Fullenwider, it was like perfect, couldn’t of been better.”

He is now the new battalion chief for Station 1.

One of Fullenwider’s top priorities will be handling the upcoming contract negotiations, he said.

Union contracts expire at the end of the year and negotiations are set to begin next month.

“That sets the pace for the next three to five years, depending on the length of the contract,” he said. “It’s all about money and certainly contract negotiations affect the bottom-line.”

In the meantime, Fullenwider said he’s looking forward to working with his “family” again.

“The fire service is a family, without a question,” he said. “It’s something really special. It’s something I don’t think you will find anywhere else.”

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