Steve Ebner, Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Protection District chief since 2006, is retiring Aug. 1.
Ebner began his career in the fire service 42 years ago in Maryland, where he worked in volunteer and career-track positions for 28 years. He was an instructor for University of Marylands fire-science program for 14 of those years.
In 1999, Ebner moved to New Mexico where he was employed by the Farmington Fire Department for nine years.
During his last two years in Farmington, he would work his shift there before covering a part-time job as chief of the volunteer Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Protection District. He began full-time employment with Fort Lewis Mesa in 2008.
The district remains all-volunteer except for the paid chiefs position.
Pam Wilson is director of FireWise of Southwest Colorado, a program that teaches homeowners how to protect houses against wildfire, and sits on he Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Protection District board.
Steve Ebner has been a great chief, Wilson said. He was instrumental in overseeing the construction of two new fire stations in the district, one at the intersection of county roads 100 and 110 and the other on County Road 117.
Increasing the number of stations helps reduce insurance rates because it lowers response time.
Ebner also has taught home-ignition workshops, Wilson said. The sessions educate homeowners to the fact that many homes burn not because of direct contact from a wildfire but from flying embers that land on wooden decks, porch furniture or enter open vents, Wilson said.
Wilson said the district is working on a job description for Ebners replacement. The opening should be announced this week, she said.
In retirement, Ebner and his wife, Mary, plan to spend time with family in Aztec and Dolores.