AURORA | After five years with the department, Aurora Fire Rescue Chief Fernando Gray Sr. is leaving to take a position as director and fire chief for the city of Las Vegas.
Gray’s final day will be Friday, July 15, according to a Tuesday news release from the city of Aurora. He came to the department in 2017 from Dallas, where he spent over 20 years with that city’s fire department.
Gray is Aurora’s first Black fire chief, and recruiting more minority firefighters and redirecting the department’s focus on emergency medical calls were two of his major goals after being appointed. He oversaw the department during the pandemic, which forced fire departments across the nation to restructure their operations almost overnight.
Also under Gray’s leadership, the Aurora Fire Department was subject to a first-of-its-kind consent decree agreement between the city and state Attorney General’s office remedying public safety personnel claims, which stemmed from the death of Elijah McClain. McClain died after a 2019 encounter with police and paramedics, who injected him with a dangerous amount of ketamine for his weight after being wrongly stopped by police in north Aurora. He later died at a local hospital.
The city council went on to put a moratorium on local paramedics using ketamine.
In a statement, city manager Jim Twombly praised Gray for his accomplishments with the department.
“His commitment to professionalism in the fire service is unmatched and our city has benefited from his exemplary leadership,” he said. “He leaves an agency that is nationally recognized as providing the finest fire and EMS service, and I have every confidence that the future of Aurora Fire Rescue is bright.”
Twombly said that he will name an interim fire chief and announced the next steps in the search for a new chief in the near future.