Jennifer Jimenez, Independent Newsmedia
A new chief is in place at Arizona Fire & Medical Authority (AFMA). AFMA is the agency that is responsible for fire suppression and emergency medical care here in Sun Lakes. AFMA also protects the areas of Sun City West, Wittmann, Coldwater Ranch, Corte Bella, Cross River, Dos Rios, Pinnacle Peak County Island, Rancho Silverado, Rios Sierra, and Tonopah.
Mark Burdick, officially approved as the agency’s new fire chief, brings close to 40 years of fire service experience to Arizona Fire & Medical. His career began in 1983 with Glendale Fire Department and worked through almost every rank, including chief.
Former Arizona Fire & Medical Chief Robert Biscoe hired Burdick as strategic initiatives director in 2017 to guide the organization’s direction from that point forward. He then moved to an assistant chief role for one year before being hired as Buckeye Valley Fire District chief from 2019 until May 15.
Burdick will remain chief of Buckeye Valley under an agreement between the two agencies.
“Both Arizona Fire & Medical and Buckeye Valley Fire District agreed and approved a shared chief agreement between the two,” Burdick said.
In addition to his role in Buckeye, Burdick served as the shared chief of Sun City Fire and Medical, an arrangement that ended May 15.
While serving as Glendale chief, he was responsible for nine stations, 285 personnel, and a $45 million budget. Coming to Arizona Fire & Medical, managing a large organization is not foreign to him. He said he feels comfortable leading a larger organization and that it represents a great opportunity.
“Chief Biscoe said he felt it was appropriate, since the organization is getting bigger,” he added.
Biscoe will serve as a senior adviser and consultant for the next year, looking into the current feasibility study with Buckeye Valley Fire District and Arizona Fire & Medical, and will assist with financial issues.
Burdick said Biscoe has been through consolidations, mergers, and joint powers authority, all of which are valuable in the Sun Lakes role. Burdick said that to get the chance to tap into Biscoe’s expertise is unique.
The goal of Arizona Fire & Medical remains, according to Deputy Chief Kane Nixon, to continue to provide a consistently high level of service.
“Everyone in Arizona Fire & Medical is excited to have Chief Burdick here because of his leadership, experience, and relationships,” he said.
Deputy Chief Eric Kriwer said Arizona Fire & Medical administration is keeping the cost centralized to the response piece, which is the costliest part of business, with cutting down on overhead.
“That is our mission, and with Chief Burdick’s experience, personality, and leadership, we are going to excel on our mission, and it is exciting for us. We are going to help educate and build trust within the automatic aid system through his leadership and continue to benefit the system,” he explained.
Kriwer said that having someone of Burdick’s caliber leading Arizona Fire & Medical can lead to a bright future for the organization. He cited Burdick’s ability to relate to personnel.
“I am very grateful for this position, as not very many people with my time of service get the chance to do this. I tip my hat to Chief Biscoe, who put this organization in place, and am excited to take this to the next level. That is what challenges me and excites me, because I know we can do it,” Burdick said.
Reach the reporter, Jennifer Jimenez, at [email protected]
Brian Curry, volunteer PIO for Sun Lakes, contributed to this article.