ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – After 123 years in existence, the largest fire department in New Mexico has picked a woman to be lead the agency for the first time ever. The Albuquerque Mayor’s Office announced Monday afternoon that Emily Jaramillo will take command of the city’s Fire Rescue Department (AFR) next month, replacing the current retiring fire chief, Gene Gallegos.

Jaramillo has been with Albuquerque Fire Rescue since 2005. In 2018, she took on an administrative role as Deputy Chief of Emergency Services near the start of Mayor Tim Keller’s administration. The position saw Jaramillo overseeing multiple other divisions within the department, including the the HEART team, AFR Records, Quality Assurance, Pharmacy, EMS Training Divisions, and Firefighter Health and Safety. Previously, she worked at AFR as a firefighter and paramedic in various different roles.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to serve as the next Fire Chief at Albuquerque Fire Rescue,” Jaramillo said in a statement Monday. “The women and men in our department provide compassionate, quality fire and EMS services ensuring the health and safety of the people of our city.”

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Outgoing Fire Chief Gene Gallegos praised the appointment Thursday, calling Jaramillo “a natural choice” and a “tried and true leader.” Gallegos is expected to retire on March 3, 2023.

He served as Fire Chief for a little less than two years, taking the position in April 2021. During his time, Gallegos in part oversaw the city’s second largest Bosque fire, near homes by Montaño and Candelaria.

Jaramillo’s appointment will go to Albuquerque City Council for confirmation. As for “what’s next” in AFR’s future, the city is expected to expand fire services out along the southwest mesa in the coming years.