A six-month search to replace former Salt Lake City Fire Chief Tom Tallon is near conclusion as Mayor Rocky Anderson announced Thursday that Chuck Querry was his choice to head the 354-firefighter department.

Querry needs an official vote of confidence from the City Council, but Anderson said approval for the local man, who won out over applicants nationwide, is a foregone conclusion.

"I received written support from about 95 percent of the fire department, so I would say that's a pretty good indication he's the guy, " Anderson said.

The 20-year veteran retired from the city's department in 1997 for personal and family reasons and has since moonlighted as a consultant for Draper and Riverton fire crews. Now, with his three children grown and out of the house, Querry is ready to resume active duty with the city where he spent his firefighting years.

"Once you're a member of the fire department, it just doesn't get out of your blood," he said.

Querry, 47, began work as a firefighter in 1977, rising to captain 10 years later. He spent his last five years with the department as a battalion and deputy chief. While a chief he was instrumental in implementing the Wasatch Fire Academy to train and recruit firefighters statewide and helped establish the Metro Arson Task Force, which incorporates personnel from the city and county fire departments, the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office and agents from Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Querry said he will continue to support inter-agency cooperation.

"It's vital that we work closely with other agencies," Querry said. "We can work together to meet the needs of each department. Combining resources or combining to get a better price on equipment, it just makes common sense."

For the short-term, citizens shouldn't expect any major changes, but Querry supports building a new Fire Station No. 9 as proposed for Salt Lake's far west side. He said he will continue to expand on recent departmental successes like adding a fourth firefighter to every engine. In the more distant future, Querry is devising a strategy to best manage rescue and fire operations during the 2002 Winter Games.

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