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MERIDIAN — Mayor Robert Simison Wednesday appointed Kristopher Blume, a leader within the Tucson Fire Department, to head the Meridian Fire Department.

If confirmed by Meridian City Council, Blume will round out the city’s two recently-vacated public safety leadership spots after new Police Chief Tracy Basterrechea was sworn in last week. Originally from Idaho, Blume has spent 20 years firefighting in Tucson, most recently in senior leadership, according to a press release. An expert in fire ground and emergency management, Blume also teaches for the National Fire Academy, a federal firefighting training institution.

“Kris’ vast experience in combination with his leadership style and vision for the department make him the right person to fill this position,” Simison said in the release. “I am confident he can build upon the strong reputation and foundation of the department while taking it to new heights.”

The leadership opening arose after former chief and Meridian Emergency Operations Manager Mark Niemeyer was named chief of the Boise Fire Department in November. Charlie Butterfield, a longtime Meridian firefighter, has served as chief in the interim.

Since then, Simison conducted “interviews with both internal and external candidates” to replace him, his spokeswoman, Shandy Lam wrote in an email last month. Lam declined to provide the names of those interviewed, and a public records request of the names was denied last month. Further details on the hiring process remain unclear, and a follow-up request for details was not returned by deadline Wednesday.

After moving south, Blume received three bachelor’s degrees as a University of Arizona undergraduate; his LinkedIn profile shows he’s set to complete a graduate degree in organizational management from Northern Arizona University this year. He’s also written on fostering diversity within fire departments, technical firefighting skills and negotiating department budgets on FireRescue1, a website that reports news, analysis and opinion in the field.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to return to my Idaho roots and serve the great citizens of Meridian,” said Blume. “Meridian Fire Department is well-respected and highly-regarded, and I can’t imagine a better organization to join as I take this next step in my career.”

His appointment will be presented to Meridian City Council at a meeting later this month. Should the council confirm him, he’ll be Meridian’s ninth fire chief.

Blake Jones covers Kuna and Meridian for the Idaho Press. You can reach him at bjones@idahopress.com and follow him on Twitter @jonesblakej.

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