A new Fairfax City treasurer with an extensive background in accounting has been named to fill the vacancy created two weeks ago when newly elected Treasurer Ray M. Birch resigned to call attention to record-keeping problems in the treasurer's office.

The Fairfax City Council Saturday chose John W. Coughlan, a former accounting professor at Loyola College in Baltimore, to replace Birch until a new treasurer is elected Nov. 2.

Birch, who unseated veteran Treasurer Frances L. Cox in last November's election, quit Jan. 19, saying Cox had left the office in such disarray that he could not straighten out the books.

In naming Coughlan to the $30,000-a-year job, the council asked him to review the functions of the treasurer's office and perhaps revise certain fiscal procedures, according to Tom Welle, city spokesman. Currently, the treasurer collects all revenue, invests the city's funds and handles its tax billing, Welle said.

Coughlan, 54, was selected from a field of five persons and one accounting firm who had applied for the job, Welle said. Coughlan, who's a resident of Fairfax City (a legal requirement of the job), said he does not plan to run for treasurer in the November election.

A native of Canada, Coughlan is a certified public accountant and president of the CPA School of Washington. He holds a doctorate in economics from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Coughlan started the job Monday, but said he has not yet had time to evaluate the extent of problems in the treasurer's books.