On Tuesday March 24, 2015, Rio Rico Fire District Chief Les Caid was awarded the distinction of being the Arizona Fire Chief’s Association (AFCA), Fire Chief of the Year at the annual AFCA Conference held in Glendale. AFCA President Chief Mary Cameli of Mesa Fire and Medical said, “Each year the Association selects a Fire Chief of the Year and this year we are proud to report Chief Les Caid has been selected. Chief Caid has been innovative and active in the EMS arena for the Fire Service throughout the State. He truly sets a great example for others to follow.”
Chief Les Caid currently holds the chair position for the Santa Cruz County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). Under the tenure of Chief Les Caid, Santa Cruz County has moved to the number 3 position from the number 13 position of the 15 counties. This enabled Santa Cruz County LEPC to provide several transportation training workshops, procure additional needed equipment for the regional hazardous materials team, and the procurement of an all hazards 3D projection table for wild fire modeling and hazardous materials. This 3D projection technology is the only one in all of Arizona at this time.
Additionally Chief Caid serves as the co-chair of the U. S. EPA Border 2020 Arizona/Sonora Emergency Preparedness Task force. Chief Caid, through the task force brought Incident Command and Traffic Incident Management training to the first responders in Mexico who work near the border. He also was able to help obtain additional equipment for firefighters in Mexico that included: advanced chemical protection suits, radiation detection gear, self-contained breathing apparatus support, and firefighting bunker gear. Mexico firefighters often attend sponsored training on our side of the border to include support of major exercises, and firefighter rescue drills.
“We are delighted that Chief Caid received this award. We know that the award is for his many years and achievements in the fire service, but it makes us at Rio Rico Fire very proud to have him as our Fire Chief” said Marcela Ceballos, Administrative Manager for the fire district. “In just four years, Chief Caid has had a great impact on the community from volunteering for the Nogales Bike Classic, to establishing relationships with local and state agencies, to spearheading the first Community Integrated Paramedic Program in the state”.
Chief Caid provided leadership throughout the state in bringing the first Community Integrated Paramedic program to Arizona. This program identifies patients who are high utilization callers of the 911 system and helps them manage their health problems through scheduled visits by fire department paramedics and EMTs. “We started our program on January 3, 2015 and it has made huge differences in participants’ lives. We have reduced 911 calls, provided connections to resources that the participants didn’t know about, educated them on their diseases, and have been a big support structure in many ways to the participants” said Alex Green, Captain of the Rio Rico Fire District.
“I am happy that our chief was recognized” says Leilani Salazar, Public Educator for the Rio Rico Fire District. “Chief Caid is a big enthusiast of carseat safety; he supports the program through education, purchasing carseats through grants, and encouraging carseat safety events in Santa Cruz County and Sonora. Over the last four years we have given away hundreds carseats to parents in Santa Cruz County. Because of his encouragement, our children are traveling safer on the roads.”
Chief Caid, started his fire service career with Tucson Fire in 1979, retiring as a Deputy Chief in 2004, then worked for Rural/Metro as a Regional Chief for several years before he took over as the Fire Chief of the Rio Rico Fire District in 2011. “It is a true honor to be recognized by my peers throughout Arizona, but this is an award I share with all the men and women who make up the Rio Rico Fire District. It is because of their hard work and dedication to our community that I received this award. When someone calls 911, they are most likely having the worst day of their life. When our firefighters show up, they make a difference; a positive impact in their situations. I am truly blessed and proud to work with a group of fire and EMS professionals who all have a passion for what they do.”
Chief Les Caid receiving the Fire Chief of the Year Award surrounded by members of the Rio Rico Fire District. From left to right Ernesto Archuleta President of Firefighters IAFF Local 4631, Marcela Ceballos Administrative Manager, Chief Les Caid, Maribel Pesqueira Administrative Assistant, and Dean Davis District Board Chairperson.