- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 30, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indianapolis fire chief said Wednesday that he is stepping down because his battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease will eventually reach the point where he will no longer be able to lead firefighters like he believes a chief should.

Brian Sanford, 57, has led the Fire Department since 2008 and will shift this summer to a new job as chief of staff to city Public Safety Director Troy Riggs. He started out his career as a firefighter with the Warren Township Fire Department in 1984, about two decades before the department merged with Indianapolis.

“I’ve always been a believer that the fire chief ought to be able to lead the troops,” Sanford told The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1fsHjQw ).

Riggs said he was disappointed when Sanford decided it was time to resign as fire chief but he is glad that Sanford will continue with the public safety agency. He said the search for a new fire chief is beginning immediately.

Sanford, who earned a base salary of $117,000 a year as fire chief, said he expects to take his new job sometime this summer. No salary for Sanford’s new position has been decided, according to Department of Public Safety spokesman Al Larsen.

The city’s fire department employs about 1,150 firefighters and 60 civilian employees, officials said.

Assistant Chief Ernest Malone said Sanford was a role model.

“The same things he demands of others he demands of himself,” Malone said.

Lou Gehrig’s disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, attacks the cells that control muscle movements. Sanford’s brother, Rod, was diagnosed with the disease seven years ago but continues to serve as a volunteer tutor in an elementary school.

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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