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Idaho Falls Deputy Fire Chief Dave Coffey retires, accepts position in Virginia


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Coffey is one of the founders of the department’s Pipes and Drums band, and they performed at his retirement ceremony. | Brittni Johnson,

IDAHO FALLS — After 25 years working as an Idaho Falls firefighter, Deputy Fire Chief Dave Coffey is off to a new adventure.

Coffey announced his plan to retire earlier in December, and on Friday, a retirement ceremony was held in his honor. Although he’s leaving Idaho Falls, he will still be doing what he loves. He accepted a fire chief position in Danville, Virginia.

“This is just one of those doors that opened up for me, it wasn’t planned,” Coffey says. “I was kind of testing the waters to see what was out there, and now I know, so we’re headed to Virginia.”

In 1994, Coffey was hired as an Idaho Falls firefighter. Throughout the years, he’s held multiple positions from a paramedic, captain and division chief of special operations. He also had a stint (2005-2010) where he worked as a flight paramedic for Air Idaho Rescue. But since 2014, he’s been the deputy chief of operations.

He’s learned many different things climbing the ranks, and he’s also influenced others along the way.

Fire Chief Duane Nelson joined the department three years after Coffey in 1997. The two were deputy chiefs together, but in May, Nelson was promoted to fire chief. Nelson says he’s a “better leader, better fire officer and a better chief,” because of Coffey.

“He taught me that … you’ve got to take that initiative to make yourself better, to make the department better, and to meet your goals and expectations,” Nelson says.

Coffey with Idaho Falls Fire Chief Duane Nelson. | Brittni Johnson,

Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper attended Coffey’s retirement ceremony where she praised him for his leadership, especially for calling the shots during the Henry’s Creek Fire in 2016.

WATCH: Aerial video shows massive size of Henry’s Creek Fire

“I was first impressed with the kind of a man that he was, and then, within a short amount of time, I became impressed with the kind of firefighter that he was,” Casper says. “All I can say is that Virginia is getting a good deal.”

Coffey also helped with the preparation and administration of the department budget, managed equipment, supervised department staff, and provided oversight of daily operations. He oversaw the state Hazardous Materials Response and Technical Response Teams and assisted with the Fire Prevention Division and Swift Water Rescue Team.

“This has been the best career. I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Coffey says. “It’s been a family.”

Jon Perry was the department’s training division chief, but he’s accepted the promotion to take over as the new deputy chief of operations. He will officially begin his new assignment on Jan. 4.

Idaho Falls Fire Department Pipes and Drums with Coffey. | Brittni Johnson,