Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Fire Department staff, government employees and family members of Salt River Fire Chief William “Dave” Bunce celebrated his 16-year career with the Community at a luncheon held at Talking Stick Resort’s Grand Ballroom on April 5. After working in the fire service for more than 40 years, Bunce is retiring from the Salt River Fire Department.
Representatives from fire departments from across the Valley were on hand, and the audience watched a presentation on the chief’s experiences in the fire service.
SRPMIC President Delbert Ray Sr. acknowledged Bunce’s years of service to the Community: “Our lives here in Salt River were in your hands. We would like to thank your family for allowing you to sacrifice your time to work in the Community,” said Ray. “You have added another layer of integrity and accountability.” Ray then presented Bunce with a plaque.
SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier presented Bunce with a Pendleton blanket and added his thanks for Bunce’s years of service to the Community.
Speakers paying tribute to Bunce included Salt River Police Department Chief Patrick Melvin, Assistant Chief Karl Auerbach and other staff members from the SRPD.
Bunce recently had the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at one of the spring training games at Salt River Fields, which Chief Melvin mentioned. Then Melvin asked for Bruce Tunnicliff, director of safety and security for Casino Arizona, to come to the stage.
Tunnicliff shared memories from his time working with Bunce for the past 13 years, including the huge input Bunce and the fire staff had on the safety technology during the building of Talking Stick Resort. Tunnicliff presented Bunce with a gift on behalf of Casino Arizona.
Auerbach said, “We have never had issues with the fire department. We want to wish [Bunce] a farewell as well as a plaque on behalf of the [Salt River] police department. His heart is so huge for this Community; he embodied the culture and traditions of the Community and even spent time with the youth and seniors of the Community, including Safety Day and the Fire Explorers program. He has the heart of a leader,” concluded Auerbach before presenting Bunce with the Salt River Police Department plaque.
Kevin Makil and Marty Gordon of the Salt River Fire Department thanked Bunce for his passion and willingness to strive for quality and care for everyone. “His general interest and accountability to work together as a team and his pride for excellence [are] to be commended,” said Gordon. “It has been an honor to serve with Chief Bunce, and we would like to thank him for his leadership.”
A fire helmet, gold badge and retirement axe were presented to Bunce by Makil and Gordon. He also received a street sign that read “Chief Bunce Way.”
Bunce said he was honored and humbled by everyone who thanked him in his fire career. “Getting to learn about the [SRPMIC] culture only enhanced my appreciation [of it],” he said. Bunce reviewed some of the changes at the fire department during his tenure, including all fire staff becoming EMT certified. He also shared how his first fire helmet was metal in a region that was prone to severe lightning storms, and his first breathing apparatus was made of steel and very heavy.
He also mentioned a few memories from his time on the job here, including delivering a baby once and saving families and their possessions. “I want to thank the SRPMIC, presidents, Council, leadership and those from around the Valley,” said Bunce. “I also want to thank the Salt River Fire Department, and most importantly my family.”
After Bunce’s speech, Gordon called upon the fire staff to conduct the last call, then led a toast to Chief Bunce.
Bunce will be taking his experience in the fire service to his new position as an instructor at a fire academy in Maryland.