IFD chief to step down over health concerns, take new DPS role

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INDIANAPOLIS (April 30, 2014) – Indianapolis’ fire chief will step down to embrace a new role within the Department of Public Safety.

Indianapolis Fire Department Chief Brian Sanford cited “ongoing health issues” in a message to IFD and said he will soon assume duties as chief of staff for the Department of Public Safety Director’s Office. Sanford has served as IFD chief since 2008 and will remain in that position until the department finds his successor.

Sanford’s career began with the Warren Township Fire Department when he was 27 years old. He became the chief of the department and served in that capacity for eight years. In 2007, Warren Township Fire Department merged with IFD. In July 2008, Sanford became IFD chief. Last December, he reached a milestone, having served as an Indianapolis firefighter for 30 years.

“Over the last 30 years I have been blessed to serve this great city and surround myself with a remarkable array of hardworking and talented people dedicated to the efforts of public safety,” said Sanford. “I am grateful to all those who have supported me throughout my career and look forward to assisting Director Riggs meet his vision for Indianapolis Public Safety going forward.”

Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said he’s proud of the work Sanford has done at IFD and welcomes him to his new role.

“His talents run far beyond his service as a firefighter and I am excited to have him join the DPS executive staff,” Riggs said.

As chief of staff, Sanford will assist Riggs and Deputy Director Valerie Washington in overseeing eight divisions of DPS: IFD, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Indianapolis EMS, Animal Care and Control, Division of Homeland Security, Public Safety Communications, Citizen’s Police Complaint Office and Mayor’s Office of Re-Entry.

No definitive timetable has been set to find Sanford’s replacement.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard released the following statement about Sanford’s departure:

“Chief Sanford dedicated 30 years of his life to protecting the people of this great city.  His strong leadership, calm demeanor, and constant focus on the best interests of his fellow firefighters will carry on at IFD for years to come.  I am pleased the people of Indianapolis will continue to benefit from Sanford’s wisdom and expertise as Chief of Staff in the Department of Public Safety.”

Sanford sent the following message to firefighters:


From the moment I accepted the position of IFD Chief in 2008, I placed a high value on the importance of an open door policy and open lines of communication between my office and you.  The week’s end reports have been one way to try and maintain that vision and communicate important information to each and every one of you in a more personal yet timely fashion.  Often times I hear that most of you go straight to the “rumors” section of my week’s end reports and work your way up.  Today I am going to put the rumors portion at the top and address a rumor that has been circulating for quite some time.

As will be announced later today, I will be stepping down as the Chief of IFD and stepping into the role of “Chief of Staff” for Director Riggs and the Department of Public Safety.  A definitive date for full retirement from IFD has yet to be decided.  Between now and then a process will occur to select a new Chief to lead the Department going forward.  In my new role as Chief of Staff I am looking forward to continuing my working relationship with each and every one of you in addition to a broader role with the other 7 divisions of DPS.  More information will be forthcoming but I can tell you that the same value I place on our lines of communication now will remain a priority with my new position.  My e-mail address is still the same…only my office will be down the hall.  

I appreciate all of the concern that has been shown to me as I deal with my ongoing health issues and understand better than anyone the future physical limitations I will incur.  I feel honored that the Director has asked me to take on an even larger role in Public Safety and know that IFD will continue to remain the finest fire department in the country.   

As we all know, the current speed of social media makes it almost impossible for me to deliver the message to each of you personally.  For those of you who do not see it here first…I apologize.  I continue to cherish the opportunity to work with each of you and look forward to this new opportunity. Please see the press release below for greater detail.   

Chief Brian Sanford

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