Durham County

Durham fire chief takes new job. Where's he going?

Durham Fire Chief Daniel Curia is retiring and will become chief of the Charleston, South Carolina fire department.
Durham Fire Chief Daniel Curia is retiring and will become chief of the Charleston, South Carolina fire department.

This summer, the Durham city and county fire departments will merge as the city searches for a new fire chief.

Durham Fire Department Chief Daniel Curia is retiring from the city and becoming the new fire chief in Charleston, South Carolina. He was in Charleston Friday for that announcement.

Last month, Curia was named one of four finalists for the job, including Cary Fire Chief Allan Cain.

Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield said Friday that Curia gave the city notice of his retirement this week. His retirement date is Aug. 1. The city and county fire departments will merge in July.

Bonfield said Friday that no one in either fire department will lose their jobs, though there will be some adjustments in title in terms of their positions. He also said that county firefighters with rural experience and city firefighters with urban experience will have to learn about the others' responsibilities.

Durham County Commissioners Chair Wendy Jacobs said this week that the fire departments' merger will "help them to be more efficient, better deliver services, improve response times and reduce insurance rates for homeowners."

Curia has worked for the city for three decades, so is eligible for the state retirement system local government employees plan. He became chief in 2013.

According to the Charleston Post & Courier, Curia said he would move the Charleston department forward by building trust, emphasizing teaching fire-safe behavior and CPR and ensure sprinklers are installed in buildings. Curia would also explore the fire department partnering with the city to provide affordable housing, the Post & Courier reported.

The City of Charleston planned to introduce Curia at a press conference Friday.

Bonfield said the search for a new fire chief will begin soon and should take three to four months. Bonfield said the fire chief job will be open to internal and external candidates.

Another change in the fire departments is a new Fire Station 17 in the works on Leesville Road in southeast Durham near new large housing development Carolina Arbors and two others currently under construction. The Bethesda fire station also on Leesville will remain open. Two more fire stations will be built in southern Durham in the coming years, and Bethesda will likely close after those open, Bonfield said.

Bonfield hired Curia as chief and said he has done "just an amazing job," noting Curia's work to lower response times, make the department more efficient and become data-driven.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563: @dawnbvaughan