Los Alamos Fire Department Safety Division Chief Joseph Baca loves his new assignment. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos Fire Department’s new Safety Division Chief Joseph Baca clearly loves his new position. He says he loves that he is still connected with the trucks and the stations even though his office is at LAFD administration at 900 Central Avenue.
Safety for the fire department has been always been important to Baca, and you can tell when he talks about it, whether it’s personal protective equipment for the crews or just any safety requirement within the stations.
“The thing is I’m still really close with the guys in the stations. I talk to them and I think they feel they can come to me with their concerns. I realize I still have to be a buffer or a filter between them and the Chief (Troy Hughes). But I bring up a lot of their concerns and I try to be an advocate for them,” Baca said.
He does, however admit that he misses the “station food” the firefighters cook for themselves when they spend a continuous 48 hours at the stations for their shifts and expressed delight at having been invited to lunch by one of the crews.
“I really love this position. I love this office. I was so excited when they assigned me to it and I hope they keep me here for the rest of my career.” Baca said.
He is eligible to retire with 21 years of service with LAFD and more years in the service but has no desire to do so.
“I did over 20 solid years out in the field and moved up all the ranks. This was a good change for me. I feel like I needed a change in my career and I’m really enjoying it right now,” he said.
Baca said Chief Hughes has assigned the Department’s community outreach program also, something that is also very important to him. He has been a member of the public education team at LAFD since 1998. He said October is a particularly busy month for community outreach with because of all the Fire Prevention activities. Crews visit local schools and preschools and there are open houses at some of the fire stations.
Baca is also working on the upcoming Firefighter for a Day event scheduled for Oct. 20 where community members have been invited to participate in activities along with LAFD members including EMS scenarios and vehicle extrication.
Baca has been the acting Safety Division Chief a few times in the past which he said gave him a taste for the position.
“There’s always something to learn. It’s one of those things where you’ve always got to keep up with changing standards. By no means do I know everything I need to know, there’s a lot still that I feel I need to know,” he said.
He praised LAFD support staff saying they have all been very helpful.
“I try to be good to them because they make my job so much easier. I appreciate them so much and every single one of our support staff have been amazing,” Baca said.
After joining LAFD as a rookie in 1997, Baca moved through the ranks as firefighter, driver/engineer, captain and training captain. He became a paramedic in 2003 and in addition to the public education team, has also served on the technical rescue and Haz-Mat teams.
His son Brian and brother David also work for LAFD. He and his wife Loretta live on the family ranch in Canjilon along with their two daughters, Marissa and Elyssa. When he is not at LAFD he enjoys spending time with his family there and particularly loves the outdoors.