The Salt River Fire Department (SRFD) has selected Daryl Dash as its new Fire Chief. Dash is the first Community member to become Fire Chief of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
He has been in the department for 28 years. “I have worked my way up through the ranking system,” said Chief Dash. “I have been a firefighter, paramedic, captain and battalion chief.” During that time Dash pursued his education as well. “I am still in school right now, for a bachelor’s degree in public administration. My goal is to get to the National Fire Academy, which I have been to for Tribal Emergency Management certification, and another goal is to attend and complete the Executive Fire Officer Program, which is another four-year program.”
On his first day as fire chief, Dash needed to start the budget process for his department and it was a very busy first day for him; for the full day after that, he sat in meetings.
“It has been an eye-opener because I am coming off [working in] the field, doing 24-hour shifts for 28 years, and during that first day I left here thinking about how I have to come back the next day instead of 24 hours on, 24 hours off. So [the new schedule] has been an adjustment for me, and will be for a while,” Dash said.
When Dash started at the SRFD, there were only eight firefighters, two per station.
The SRFD is still young, established 34 years ago, and Dash says there are still growth opportunities.
“It’s grown and the equipment has gotten better, and we now have four stations in Salt River,” Dash said. “But the biggest change is the growth of the Community. Whoever thought [that] a freeway, casino or Salt River Fields would be here?” said Dash
“The goal I have for the fire department is to continue to improve the training and responses. We need to meet the customer service [goals] for the Community, which is growing,” said Dash. “We need to meet the challenges that are coming up in the near future. The commercial corridor is coming up, and we need to meet that challenge, as well the residential growth of the community” said Dash.
Dash added that he was very humbled and honored to accept this position. His 9-year-old daughter really likes that her father now works an 8-to-5 job and can be home in the evenings.
Working for the SRFD is a great opportunity, Dash said, and he encourages young Community members who are up to the physical and mental challenge to consider becoming firefighters “It does take dedication to want to be a firefighter and even more it takes lots of education, the firefighters have to continually learn new techniques in firefighting as well medical training, the personnel are required to recertify their medical training every two years and it takes dedication and willingness to keep that training level high but if you can do it, especially for those members who are community members, the service to the community is great and to the members of the community, I have seen family and friends injured or pass away-including my first daughter-but I was there and trained to do my best [to help them]” said Dash, “It may be difficult, but it is also blessing too. You get to serve your community.”