Former Lincoln, Neb. fire chief named to post in Baltimore

Baltimore has once again looked outside the city and state when hiring a new fire chief.

Niles Ford, 48, a former chief of the Lincoln, Neb. fire department and who most recently served a the town manager of a small Georgia city was introduced Monday as the new chief of the Baltimore City Fire Department.

Ford is expected to take over the 1,700-member department on Jan. 22 and will be paid $165,000. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake cited Ford's more than 20 years working in fire safety as one of the credentials that helped him stand out over other candidates.

Ford's hiring still need approval by the City Council and comes at a time of transition within the department. The department has eliminated 140 positions through attrition and is dealing with a spike in fire deaths across the city. So far, the city has had 21 fire deaths this year, compared to an all-time low of 12 in 2012.

Ford replaces James Clack, who retired in July following a five-year tenure. Clack came to Baltimore from Minnesota. During his tenure, Clack brought down fire deaths, but was criticized for budget cuts which many claimed impacted public safety.

"I'm no stranger to overcoming challenges," Ford said.

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