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Heads Larger Fire Department : Colorado Springs Chief Gets Oxnard Job

December 15, 1988

Colorado Springs Fire Chief Richard C. Smith, a firefighter for 26 years, was chosen this week to assume command of Oxnard's Fire Department starting Feb. 6, city officials announced.

Smith, 53, will be Oxnard's first permanent fire chief since early 1986, when Ron Bogardus retired. He will be paid $71,324 a year.

"I'm looking forward to it with great anticipation, regardless of the fact that I leave Colorado Springs with a great deal of reluctance," said Smith, who said his move was prompted by his desire for a new challenge and a change of climate.

Smith started at Colorado Springs in 1962 and has been chief there for 9 years.

The 350-person Colorado Springs department, which serves a population of 280,000 over 180 square miles, is substantially larger than the Oxnard department. In his new job, he will command a 100-person office serving about 125,000 people over an area of roughly 30 square miles.

A high school dropout, Smith received a master's degree in public administration from the University of Colorado last year.

He holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Regis College and an associate of arts degree in fire science from El Paso Community College. He has also attended Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Acting Fire Chief Ted Christensen, who also applied for the permanent job, will return to his duties as second in command.

Smith was selected by City Manager Dave Mora from seven finalists in a national search that turned up more than 80 candidates.

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