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From volunteer to fire captain

Golden Valley Fire District Captain Tony DeMaio takes a break in the Station #11 attack vehicle while on duty as captain of “B” Shift.

GOLDEN VALLEY - Just about every young boy (and some young girls) have dreamed of riding down the road on a fire truck, sirens blaring and red lights flashing while racing to extinguish a blaze.

You could say most youngsters are "bitten by the bug" to become a firefighter at one time or another during their lives.

Newly promoted 48-year-old Golden Valley Fire District Capt. Tony DeMaio is no different from the multitude of youngsters who dreamed of becoming a firefighter, putting out fires and saving lives.

Tony remembers when he lived in San Bernardino County in Southern California with his parents. Their home was located against a mountain that seemed to catch fire every summer.

"I remember when the firefighters arrived at the fire scene to put out the blaze," DeMaio said, "and I think that is just about the time I started dreaming of the day that I could become a firefighter."

When Tony was in his early 20s, he relocated from San Bernardino County to Golden Valley and started working as a manager at his parents' video rental store on the east side of the valley.

The GVFD was a fairly small department then, with only one fire station on North Mayer Road, nine paid firefighters, a fire chief and a secretary. Between 15 and 25 volunteer firefighters were also with the department.

"I was working at the video rental store one day in 1992 and a GVFD captain walked in and started talking with me," DeMaio said. "He asked if I wanted to come down to the fire department and be a volunteer, and the rest is history."

Tony signed up to be a volunteer firefighter and started attending the one-day-a-week training sessions. The training "bible" they used to teach the volunteers was the International Fire Service Training Association manual and they learned basic firefighting skills, CPR, fundamental firefighting techniques and safety. The training and instruction DeMaio received is the basically the same as most fire academies teach.

After attending the classes for about two years, Tony and the other volunteers headed to the Lake Mohave Rancho Fire District during 1994 and took their exam for the Arizona State Firefighter No. 1 and No. 2 certification.

Even though Tony was now certified as a firefighter, he wanted to expand his knowledge. He completed the training and was certified as an emergency medical technician before he was hired on as a full-time firefighter in 1994. Tony became a certified paramedic in 1998.

DeMaio is one of three captains in the district and was assigned to the"B" Shift. When on duty, Tony is responsible for six other firefighters, three engine companies and a lot of firefighting equipment.

The fire district has grown and now has three fire stations with 21 firefighters - three engineers, three captains, one fire marshal, one battalion chief, one mechanic (non-firefighter), one assistant fire chief, a fire chief and two office staff.

GVFD is currently responsible for fire suppression and emergency medical service in a 220-sqaure-mile area.

Tony works hard and also plays hard. When not on duty as a fire captain, he enjoys riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and spending time with his family on their boat on Lake Mohave.

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