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Durham picks Fairfax firefighter who helped at Pentagon on 9/11 as next fire chief

Robert Zoldos II, an experienced firefighter whose career includes rescues at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, will be the next chief of the Durham Fire Department, the city announced Tuesday morning.

Zoldos, 49, has worked for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in Fairfax, Va. for 25 years and is now the deputy chief of its health, safety and wellness division. In Durham, he will replace Interim Fire Chief Chris Iannuzzi, who has served in the position since Daniel Curia left in July to take over Charleston, S.C.’s fire department.

Zoldos was the commander of the urban search and rescue team in Fairfax before transitioning to the deputy chief position.

Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield cited Zoldos’ emergency medical and search and rescue experience in Fairfax in explaining the decision to hire him. “With the Durham Fire Department being very active in fire and emergency medical calls as well as in North Carolina Task Force 8, we felt his extensive leadership experience and on-the-ground ‘know-how’ was a great fit for Durham,” Bonfield said in a press release.

As a member of Virginia Task Force One, Zoldos was certified for both domestic and international deployment for emergency rescues. In addition to his efforts as a rescue squad officer after the Sept. 11 attacks, Zoldos was deployed to help after Hurricane Katrina and has served on 11 international rescue missions. He testified before Congress about a week-long mission in Japan to try to find survivors of an earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the country on March 11, 2011.

Zoldos also served three terms from 2012-18 as the mayor of Lovettsville, Va., a small town of about 2,000 people at the northern tip of Virginia.

Zoldos will take charge of the Durham Fire Department just after it merged with the county’s fire department on July 1 to speed up response times to emergencies. The department now has 318 employees.

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