‘We’re the people who take care of people’

Desmond Fulton becomes chief of the Denver Fire Department

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The Denver Fire Department is more than 150 years old.

Along with that age has come some various traditions within the department, but one mainstay value has always been helping the community during an emergency.

“We have an opportunity to make a positive difference in somebody’s life every day,” said Desmond Fulton, who has been with the department for 22 years. “We’re the people who take care of people.”

The Denver Fire Department serves the City and County of Denver, Glendale, Sheridan, Englewood and the Skyline Fire District.

In early October, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock appointed Fulton as chief of the Denver Fire Department. Fulton was sworn in on Oct. 12.

“The job of a Denver firefighter is one of the most critical public safety jobs in our city,” Hancock said in a news release. “Fulton knows this department and has served alongside men and women up and down the ranks, and he is committed to making Denver’s fire department the best, most inclusive it can be.”

Fulton was serving as deputy chief prior to his current appointment as chief, and in that role, he managed the daily operations of the department. He also served as the Incident Plan Commander and liaison for the department’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic; the fire department’s representative on the city’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity Team; and on the mayor’s Office of Equity Reconciliation Task Force Team, which focuses on tackling the public health crisis of racism.

As chief, Fulton will lead the department’s more than 1,000 firefighter personnel and will oversee all the services the department provides. These include fire suppression, emergency medical services, technical rescue, hazardous materials response, water and high-angle rescue. Fulton added that he will be placing priority on additional engagement with the community, and professional/career development opportunities within the department — calling the latter “reinvesting in our people,” Fulton said.

Fulton, 50, joined the Denver Fire Department on Sept. 16, 1998. Starting out as a firefighter technician, Fulton has spent his entire career with the Denver Fire Department. To date, he is the only active member to have run two divisions as a division chief.

Some of his accomplishments with the department through the years include creating the department’s Mentorship Program, which guarantees highly coveted positions to people of color and women; organizing the development of many new department policies, including a progressive maternity policy; developing cutting-edge hazmat awareness and training practices; helping to develop and implement new wellness initiatives and programs with a focus on physical and behavioral wellness; and, in response to the prevalence of cancer illness and deaths in the fire service, leading the development of the nation’s first Cancer Resource Guidebook, which has proven to be instrumental in helping affected members of fire departments and their families cope with serious illness, a news release states.

Fulton is a Colorado native and currently resides in unincorporated Adams County. He is married, and has one daughter who is a senior in high school and one son who is studying business at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

While attending college in Greeley, Fulton was considering a career in law enforcement. However, he eventually got acquainted with some fire service professionals “who loved their job,” Fulton said. He ended up going on a ride-along, and “that was it,” Fulton said. “I just knew.”

Fulton said the Denver Fire Department team is like a family, and added he is honored “to serve alongside the men and women of this department who show up to serve every single day to protect the people of this great city.”

No matter if the emergency is putting out a fire or helping a senior who has misplaced medication, the Denver Fire Department is “here to make a difference,” Fulton said.

“Denver is a diverse city. I recognize the importance of social equity and will work to ensure our department is as diverse and inclusive as the residents and communities we serve,” Fulton said. “We take pride in recognizing everybody’s emergency is different. And we’re here for them, no matter what that emergency may be.”

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