He was born and raised in Merced. Now he’s the fire chief, officials say

A glance at the new Merced fire chief and the department

Born and raised in Merced, Billy Alcorn is the new Merced City Fire Department chief.
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Born and raised in Merced, Billy Alcorn is the new Merced City Fire Department chief.

A firefighter who is a veteran of the Merced City Fire Department has been named as the chief, officials said Monday.

Interim chief since November, Billy Alcorn started as a firefighter in the Merced department in 2004. His first day as permanent chief is March 25.

Merced City Fire Chief Michael Wilkinson suddenly retired in November, according to officials from the city of Merced. Alcorn then stepped into the position, as he did when Wilkinson’s predecessor abruptly left.

“(Alcorn) knows the needs of the city and the needs of the department,” City Manager Steve Carrigan said in a news release. “The chief has a range of experience and education that makes him exceptionally suited for the job.”

The city conducted a national search for the fire chief that produced candidates from across the country, officials said.

The 35-year-old has been a firefighter, fire engineer, fire captain and battalion chief, before becoming the deputy fire chief in 2015. He has been involved in major fire incidents throughout the state — including the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa — as strike team leader, division and group team leader, and safety officer, according to the release.

“It’s an honor to work in the fire department that serves the community where I was born and raised. Having the opportunity to serve as fire chief is a great privilege,” Alcorn said in the statement. “This is a great department with a very strong organizational foundation.”

He has a bachelor’s degree in fire administration and is a graduate of the executive fire officer program at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Along with being a confined space awareness instructor, Alcorn created a geographic information system partnership to give emergency responders accurate details on the locations of all fire hydrants in the city. He’s also been integral in other efforts with the community and planning, the release said.

He was also named the department’s Firefighter of the Year and the North Merced Rotary Club’s Firefighter of the Year in 2009.

The position pays $150,444.