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Adjunct Faculty

John Avila

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Currently employed with the City of Las Cruces Fire Department, with 14 years of dedicated service, 6 of which, has been as a company officer. I have had the opportunity to be selected as the Academy Coordinator for Academy 26 & 27. I have also had the privilege of being the lead instructor at Dona Ana Community college for the FF1 & 2 programs for the 2011/2012, 2012/2013 school year. I hope to continue my education and career opportunities within the NMSU community for years to come.

Paul Chavez

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Mr. Chavez has over 22 years experience in the field of emergency response for private and public sector organizations.  For 12 years, Mr. Chavez worked as a Chief Officer at the NASA White Sands Test Facility, Emergency Services Section and was responsible for the hazardous materials response program as well as other key components of the organization.  He is skilled in directing and managing fire and emergency services, responding to large scale emergency incidents, and developing excellent customer relationships with employees and the general public.  Key experience areas for NASA White Sands Test Facility and Doña Ana County include fire and emergency response data analysis, organizational improvements, human resource activities, establishing policy and procedure, developing training plans, and organizational performance.  
He is experienced in emergency management in operating the emergency operations center for large scale incidents in Doña Ana County.  Mr. Chavez has over 12 years experience as an instructor in higher education for the fire service.

Mr. Chavez is currently developing the fire and emergency response operations at Spaceport America.  Mr. Chavez served as the Fire Marshal for Doña Ana County from 2004 to 2009 managing 16 fire districts, 19 stations, 350 volunteer personnel (16 district fire chiefs).  He led the development of the Doña Ana County Fire and Emergency system improvement plan.  His responsibilities included establishing a plan to transition from an all volunteer response to a functional combination type response organization.  The plan Mr. Chavez developed addressed many of the same issues that will need to be addressed in establishing fire protection services at the Spaceport including, funding, equipment requirements, training and human resource requirements and activities.

Mr. Chavez also has extensive experience planning for and leading hazardous materials response incidents.  He established the first hazardous materials response team in Doña Ana County including developing policies and procedures, performing data analysis for increasing hazardous materials transport through the respective area, training volunteers and paid personnel, allocating equipment, and developing mutual aid agreements.  

Mr. Chavez is currently working on a second Master's Degree in Business Administration.  He has a Masters Degree in Communication Studies, a Bachelor's of Applied Science, and an Associate's Degree in Fire Science Technology. He is also a graduate of the National Fire Academy (Executive Fire Officer).

James Herrera

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James Herrera an 18 year veteran of the fire service is a Deputy Fire Chief with the NASA Fire Department at the White Sands Test Facility, in Las Cruces, NM.  His assigned duties hold him responsible for the Hazardous Materials Program for NASA Fire Department.  He has functioned as a firefighter, Emergency Medical Technician Intermediate and Lieutenant. 

James holds numerous State and National Certifications including Firefighter Instructor, Fire Inspector, Hazmat Awareness/ Operations Instructor, Hazmat Technician Instructor, NIMS ICS 100-400 Instructor and multiple fire officer decision making and development courses.  James’s training focus is in the area of hazardous materials.

His Fire service career began as a volunteer firefighter with the Town of Mesilla Fire Department, where he promoted from firefighter, to Driver/Operator, Lieutenant, Captain and Assistant Chief of Operations/Training.

James is a part time Instructor for the Dona Ana Community College –Fire Science Program.  His is responsible for teaching the Hazardous Materials Awareness/Operations Curriculum for the Firefighter 1 course.

Deputy Chief Herrera’s commitment to the Fire Service is to provide a quality service to the students, improve their cognitive reasoning and logic so they may be able to make sound educated decisions in the fire service.

Alfred Lujan

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My name is Alfred Lujan.  I am a retired Battalion Chief from the City of Las Cruces Fire Department with an excellent documentable record of accomplishment and success in the fire service. Highlights include career ascension through the ranks of firefighter, driver/operator, lieutenant, and battalion chief.   I spent 12-years in charge of the A-shift, a platoon of 37 personnel, where together we enjoyed a strong team dynamic responding to and mitigating many incidents including fires, medical emergencies, technical rescue, hazardous materials, aircraft emergencies, and many others.

Shift responsibilities included staffing, payroll, discipline, training and incident command.   I was also responsible to the fire department's fleet and much of the equipment. This responsibility included writing specifications, bid process, budget, maintenance scheduling, and repair coordination of all heavy equipment. In addition, I was responsible for the budget and administration of the department's Aircraft Rescue & Firefighting Team and the Technical Rescue team.

Throughout my career, I have spent thousands of hours enthusiastically teaching and mentoring cadets in the fire academy as well as regular members training for promotion and operations. Topics I regularly instructed include: leadership, fire officer, pump operations, strategy and tactics, incident command, ventilation, building construction, flashover survival, apparatus driving, fire behavior, and many others. 

I have attended the National Fire Academy in Emmittsburg Maryland on many occasions completing the Management Series in the topics of Communication, Interpersonal Dynamics, and Organizational Theory. I also completed the course in Fire Department Operations at Multiple Alarm Incidents. In addition, I earned certification in Fire Instructor I and Fire Service Course Design from the National Fire Academy. I have also earned certification in teaching Managing Company Tactical Operations and in teaching the National Incident Management System ICS 100-400 both in the State of New Mexico and through FEMA.

I hold an Associate of Arts in Fire Science and in General Studies from Dona Ana Community College. Learning and teaching are my passion and in January 2000, I began teaching at Dona Ana Community College.  I thoroughly enjoy teaching aspiring firefighters and lend my experience and education to motivate students to work hard in attaining their goals in career and life.

Steve Mims

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Steve Mims, has been involved in the fire service for over 24 years. He started his career as a volunteer firefighter with the Fairacres Volunteer Fire Department. In 1991 he decided to make firefighting a career and started with the Las Cruces Fire Department in 1992. He has progressed through the ranks of both organizations and currently serves as the Fire Chief of the Fairacres Volunteer Fire Department and the Deputy Chief of Administration for the Las Cruces Fire Department.

His education includes an Automotive Technician certification from Universal Technical Institute, Phoenix AZ ,1990 and  he is a graduate of DACC where he earned his Associate of Applied Science Fire Science Degree in 2009.

His experience in instructing started many years ago. He has instructed two fire academies for the Las Cruces Fire Department. He is New Mexico Firefighters Training Academy adjunct instructor for Vehicle Extrication and an adjunct instructor for New Mexico Department of Homeland Security for ICS 100-400. He has been instructing for the Dona Ana Community College since 2005 and has instructed or assisted with both Firefighter 1 and Vehicle Extrication.

He maintains active memberships in numerous professional and trade organizations. He has served as the Vice President and President of the Dona Ana County Fire Officers Association and State Vice President, Vice President and President of the Southwestern Division of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.


Chris Reaves

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I am currently employed with the City of El Paso as a Lieutenant with El Paso Fire Department. I am assigned to Pumper 12 at 3801 Fort Blvd.

I am currently an adjunct faculty member at El Paso Community College with the Fire Technology program. I have six years instructing experience at the college level with EPCC.  I am also an adjunct instructor at Dona Ana Community College on the main campus of New Mexico State University. I have three years instructing experience at DACC. 

My undergrad area of concentration was in English at the University of Texas at El Paso. I received a Bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Western Illinois University.    I obtained a Masters degree in Management from Webster University in 2009.

I have over fourteen years of firefighting experience with the El Paso Fire Department. My work experience has enabled me to obtain additional knowledge and applied application with emergency operations, public speaking and report writing.  I also hold an intermediate instructor and Master structural firefighting certification with the state of Texas. I also hold an Inspector II certification with the state of Texas.

Gregory Whited

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Prior military, 19 years firefighting experience, 10 years fire investigation and law enforcement experience.  Certified as: IAAI-CFI, NAFI-CFEI, NAPWDA-Accelerant detection K9 handler, Texas Peace Officer, Law enforcement instructor, firearms instructor, New Mexico and Texas Private Investigator, Associates Degrees in CJ and Fire.