Angel Fire Fire Chief Andy Bertges was fired Wednesday (Feb. 8). Village officials declined to comment issuing instead a formal statement confirming Bertges “is no longer employed by the Village of Angel Fire.”
Following an Executive Session during the Regular Village Council meeting Tuesday (Feb. 7), Mayor Pro-tem Howe made the motion to terminate Angel Fire Fire Chief Andy Bertges of all duties with the Village of Angel Fire immediately. Councilor Lanon seconded. With no further discussion the motion carried 4-0 .
Veteran firefighter John Murtagh will step in as interim chief.
Bertges told The Chronicle in a telephone interview Thursday (Feb. 9), “This was unexpected to me. I love the fire department and I had hoped to make a career. I am just proud of the friends that I made from the department.”
Bertges said he received little warning he needed to improve or he’d lose his job. “Nobody ever said that. I don’t want to get too much into it.”
Asked what his plans were, Bertges said, “I don’t know. This is brand new.”
Bertges moved to Angel Fire with wife Sarah in 2001 (their three children were born here) and joined the department as a volunteer firefighter in 2002. At that time he was the owner/operator of Rocky Mountain Fever Construction. Bertges said he left his career in construction because of his passion for the fire department. He has certification as a firefighter 1, firefighter 2, engine boss, strike team trainee, intermediate emergency medical technician, and International Fire Service Accreditation Congress instructor, among others.
In 2007 Bertges became a full time employee as captain. Following the June 26, 2012, resignation of former Chief Orlando Sandoval (and two others), Bertges stepped in as interim chief on June 27 and was given the permanent position July 10, 2012.
At that time, Bertges said, “The big reason why I took the job was I felt that I could bring unity back to the department.”
Bertges also hoped to decrease the department’s response times and improve the department’s ISO (Insurance Service Office) rating, which had dropped from eight to seven under Sandoval’s leadership, to five— goals he feels he helped accomplish. (A lower ISO rating, which range from 10 – 1 with “1” being the best, can lower homeowner insurance rates.)
Several firefighters said they were in shock about the village’s decision and hoped the department would still have a position for Bertges but all declined to speak on the record. Along with Murtagh, firefighters and emergency responders met last night to discuss how best to organize the department with the busy President’s Day weekend and Spring Break approaching.
The village’s formal statement noted, “The Mayor and Council have launched a search to fill this position as soon as possible. The Village of Angel Fire is completely covered for any emergencies that may arise by the volunteers of the Angel Fire Fire Department, the Eagle Nest Fire Department and the Moreno Valley Fire Department. For all fire and medical emergencies, dial 911. For non-emergencies, please call 575-377-3347.”