Sandoval County Fire Department Chief James Maxon has served the New Mexico Fire Service for 26-years and was appointed in July 2012 to lead the Sandoval County Fire Department (SCFD). He was previously the Deputy Fire Chief/Fire Marshal for Sandoval County. He is responsible for overall strategic leadership to ensure the department is well positioned to provide the best service to the citizens and visitors of the community. To accomplish this, the Chief leads 280 members assigned to eight districts and 20 fire stations, providing a broad range of fire and emergency services to the community.
During his tenure as Fire Chief, he has led efforts to initiate changes in department staffing and deployment, strategic planning, organizational culture and the department’s community-focused mission. The SCFD has service contracts with nine other governmental agencies for the provision of dispatch, fire, and/or EMS services that are administered by Chief Maxon. The Chief has a special interest in labor relations/negotiations and has been personally involved in the negotiation of six collective bargaining agreements.
Chief Maxon is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program (EFO) at the National Fire Academy and he has been designated as a Chief Fire Officer (CFO) by the Center for Public Safety Excellence. He has a Masters Degree in Public Administration (MPA) from the University of New Mexico, a Bachelors Degree in Business Management, and an Associates Degree in Fire Science. He was named New Mexico Fire Officer of the Year in 2012.
Chief Maxon serves as the Chair for the Board of Trustees for the New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA). PERA serves 90,000 members and manages 31 retirement plans and two benefit tiers for state, municipal and county employees in the state of New Mexico. This includes police, firefighters, judges, magistrates, legislators and volunteer firefighters. The association also manages retirement plans for other political subdivisions, such as special districts and housing authorities.
Chief Maxon served as the Chairman for the Sandoval County Regional Emergency Communications Center (SCRECC) from 2012 to 2018 and is currently the Vice Chair. The SCRECC provides dispatch services for 19 fire-EMS and law enforcement agencies throughout the Sandoval County area. As Board Chairman, Chief Maxon successfully pursued the replacement of the radio system for fire/EMS and law enforcement, which was accomplished in 2017. A new computer aided dispatch system (CAD) will be installed at the SCRECC in 2018.
Chief Maxon serves as the Chairman of the Central New Mexico Community College Fire Science Program Advisory Board, and serves on the International Association of Fire Chiefs Program Planning Committee for Fire Rescue International, Elections Committee, and the International Code Council Fire Service Membership Council.
Chief Maxon previously served with the Mexico State Fire Marshal Office. During his tenure at the State Fire Marshal Office, Chief Maxon conducted over 500 fire investigations and has been admitted as a fire origin and cause expert in both New Mexico and Colorado District Court. He has been successful in securing 13 convictions for arson related cases. Chief Maxon has taught numerous courses at the State Fire Academy and helped revise several of its Fire Origin and Cause Courses.
Chief Maxon started his career as a volunteer firefighter with Hondo Fire and Rescue in 1992 in Santa Fe County, where he served until 1997. He entered the U.S. Air Force in 1994 and attended the 16-week Department of Defense Fire Academy graduating as number one in his class. He was assigned to Kirtland AFB where he provided crash rescue to Albuquerque International Airport, was a member of the Haz-Mat team, and provided structural fire response. He obtained the rank of company officer at age 20. He was named Airman of the year in 1995 for Kirtland AFB 377 CEG and nominated for the Top 12 Airman in the Air Force Award.
In 1999, while still with the Santa Fe County Fire Department, Chief Maxon approached the Santa Fe Community College Board about the possibility of founding a fire science degree program for area firefighters. The Board approved the program and Chief Maxon spent several years developing and instructing courses. Today, the program has become part of the Public Safety Institute.
Chief Maxon was a member of the original committee at the National Fire Academy that formed a model curriculum (known as FESHE) for an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science in 1999. The degree program is now in use throughout the United States.