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Joseph De Wolf

Position: Fire Chief
Term: 2002 – 2006

Joseph was born in Brighton, Mass. and spent his school years in Raymond, New Hampshire and Tucson, Arizona. He graduated in 1980 from Palo Verde High School and went straight to Pima College where he took classes in Interior Design. While there he was asked to teach Vocational Education. He did so for the next seven years. During that time he was also working with his Dad learning the upholstery business. In 1992 he and Deana were married and he was running his own business called “Top Stitch.” Wanting to branch out to see what else was out there in his field of work, Joseph sold the upholstery side of his business and started working for a furniture consulting company, which would include working with Sears Home Life Furniture, Penney’s, and many other department stores. After five years of this consulting work, he became American Home Furniture Quality Control Manager.

Enough big city life !!! Joseph and Deana moved to Sonoita in 1995. The year 1996 brought employment at Ace Hardware, joining SEESI as a volunteer, and taking Wild Land Fire classes at Huachuca City. In 1997 Fire Fighter I and II classes were taken with instruction here in Sonoita. Another new beginning in 1998 brought Joseph back to his original business. He began his upholstering career again–the business was still named “Top Stitch.” He and Deana bought an Embroidery Mobile Unit in 2001. With it they travel around on the week ends to fairs, rodeos, horse shows and live stock shows. Deana runs the machine and embroiders designs from these different events on hats, caps, shirts, tote bags, and the like. Next, Joseph was appointed fire department Training Captain. Big job, but it was handled with his characteristic precision and dedication. He enjoyed this position very much. Sonoita-Elgin-Canelo News

Then in 2002 Jim Maloney resigned as Fire Chief of SEESI, because of conflicts between too many hours required at both SEESI and Fry Fire Dept. The SEESI Board named Joseph as Interim Chief. The Fire Chief position was advertised in the Bulletin and The Nogales International for 90 days. There was not one application turned in. When the 90 days was over, Joseph put in his application for the SEES Board to review. Because of his previous performance, goals for the future, and his steadfastness, he got the job. In November / December of 2002 our SEESI Fire Chief was named — Chief DeWolf . And what a job he has done!

His primary aims for improving the fire station were: taking an inventory, improving communications (badly needed), increasing the number of certified firefighters and EMT’s, and increasing staffing through recruitment and retention. When Joseph took over as Chief, there were 2 qualified firefighters and 4 EMT’s. Now there are 12 qualified fire fighters with Fire Fighter I and II training, and 18 EMT’s with 1 paramedic and 3 more in training. Thirty eight volunteers round out Chief DeWolf’s efforts to date. Some of these people can handle a HAZMAT (hazardous materials) – 1st responder situation. They have also been taught to extricate patients from cars, semi’s, aircraft, and homes. There are 4 EMT’s who can start an IV. There is a new innovation being introduced to Fire Depts. having to do with future use in ambulances. “PHIL” is his name. “PHIL” is an electrical dummy that will react negatively if you are doing an emergency procedure incorrectly in the ambulance. Our people don’t have any training classes as to these procedures yet, but the crews will be working on him in the near future. Watch for “PHIL”!

Chief DeWolf has opened our station to many organizations. Our Chief hosts Santa Cruz County Fire Chiefs 6 times a year for lunch. The 28 Cochise County Fire Chiefs meet here in June every year. Santa Cruz County road crews get their CPR training and refresher classes here. There are workshops for fire and EMT related situations. The building is also used by The Boy Scouts, 4 H young people, Crossroads Quilters, business meetings, and weddings, memorials and anniversaries. The greatest accomplishment in this respect is all the different Fire Chiefs getting together and discussing their issues and problems. All this was Chief DeWolf’s doing.

Some outstanding activities have taken place during Joseph’s time as Chief. There is now a “Fire Prevention Presentation” taught by Kathe Barry to the Elgin and Harvest Christian Schools. A BIG book was written by our department, Forestry Service, BLM, Pima County, Santa Cruz County, and the State of Arizona. It is entitled “Fire Protection Plan” and deals with protection of the south east corner of Arizona.

The grants obtained during Chief DeWolf’s tenure include:
-The Patagonia Community Foundation grant for patient oxygen bottles, and a STOKES basket for mountain or cave rescue (use of ropes).
-FEMA grant for equipment required by Homeland Security for all new turnouts, (yellow fire clothing for everything but wild land fires), air fill station, new wild land fire uniforms (green) and some new equipment for trucks.
-Santa Cruz County Grant to upgrade the repeater with a 70 ft tower and 3 vehicle repeaters. These improved our communications so we now receive 75% better coverage in our area.
-SAFER Grant – $700,000.00 for 5 years to be used to hire personnel. There are 9 hired full time people plus 2 part time people. This has cut the crew’s response time down by 5 – 6 minutes.

When asked about his future plans Chief DeWolf noted that it will take 3 to 4 years to establish the Fire District into a working, steady, plan to see what he will have to work with. He would like to obtain the CON (Certificate of Necessity) for our District area thus enabling the Sonoita/Elgin Fire Dist. to provide ambulance transport. He plans to work to develop water supplies at both SEFD and Elgin site; continue to add certified personnel; work toward lowering our insurance rating (ISO), and continue to develop a volunteer recruitment plan. He also plans to work with Pima and Cochise Colleges to get some of the students in Fire Science Classes to come here for on the job training.

When I asked Joseph what he enjoyed most about what he had done with the Dept., he said, “I have enjoyed the 12 years I have spent with the department – especially the last 5 years as Chief.” He was recently appointed to sit on the Arizona Fire District Association Board in Phoenix. An honor you won’t hear from Joseph. He is a soft spoken, quiet man. He is, as you can see, very industrious and works constantly to improve the future of the department. He looks for future innovations that can be of help, and his outlook is positive. He is a really nice guy. Go talk to him sometime and you’ll see what I mean. Thanks, Joseph, for being our Chief. You contributed so much with your drive and foresight.