Myers, Daly City Fire Chief
Ciucci, Training Chief
Shannon, California State Firefighters Association,
CITY FIRE’S TRAINING CHIEF
IS CALIFORNIA’S TOP TRAINING OFFICER
Ciucci Honored by California Firefighters’
Daly City - DCFD’s veteran Training
Chief Don Ciucci, often recognized for his pivotal
role in the development of the San Mateo County
Firefighter Academy, is the California State Firefighters’
Association’s “Training Officer of
the Year”, announced Fire Chief Ron Myers.
“Chief Ciucci not only trains;
he mentors. Over the years, Don has trained and
mentored hundreds of recruit firefighters, while
continuing his full-time schedule as the department’s
Training Chief. He is someone who honestly cares
about personnel succeeding in their career and
personal lives. His motivation and dedication
is unmatched. He is a model for other Training
Officers, not only in San Mateo County but throughout
the State of California,” underscored Chief
addition to Chief Myers’ nomination letter,
the CSFA received letters of support for Chief
Ciucci from various fire service agencies throughout
San Mateo County.
“The Training Program that Don has developed
over the years, and continues to revise for
his department, is a model for providing basic
and recurrent firefighter skills training as
well as adaptation to the ever-changing missions
of the fire service,” wrote San Bruno
Division Chief James Holdridge, who is also
the Secretary-Treasurer of the San Mateo County
Fire Training Officers Association.
“Chief Ciucci’s passion for the
job is second to none,” described Battalion
Chief Dick Dennin of the City of South San Francisco.
“He strives for perfection and settles
for nothing less. He has earned a reputation
here in San Mateo County as one of the finest
Training Officers in the county.”
“You can ask graduates of the San Mateo
County Firefighter Academy who they thought
made the most lasting impression during their
training, and the vast majority would name Training
Officer Don Ciucci. If you pass Don’s
class, you know the material,” added Burlingame
Fire Chief Bill Reilly.
“Chief Ciucci not only provides topnotch
training for the Daly City Fire Department.
His training leadership has led many of us to
rise up and follow suit. He has been a true
leader for the (Academy). I can think of no
other Training Officer who is more deserving
of this prestigious honor than Chief Don Ciucci,”
echoed Woodside Battalion Chief Rawn Pritchard.
South County Fire Authority Battalion Chief
Douglas Fry met Ciucci at the Fire and Rescue
Western Conference held in San Jose in 1997.
“Don was already working on developing
a plan to begin a Firefighter/Paramedic training.
His vision was unprecedented. He worked through
all the issues. Many obstacles had to be overcome,
but Don was prepared. The end result was a successful
program, with competent personnel operating
as firefighter/paramedics,” related Chief
With a Bachelor of Arts degree in City and Regional
Planning from California Polytechnic State University
at San Luis Obispo, Chief Ciucci’s career
with the City of Daly City began on June 16,
1972, as Assistant Planner for the Redevelopment
Agency. Working with a Staff Planner and a secretary,
the three-member division worked on land-use
issues, design policies and economic strategies.
“In those days, my work schedule was filled
with meetings after meetings, with many lasting
late into the night, ” the Chief noted.
Nine months from Ciucci’s hire date, the
city’s Staff Planner left for Europe.
At 24 years old and under the tutelage of then-City
Manager David Rowe, Ciucci was promoted to Staff
Planner, a position he held for nearly seven
Born in San Francisco, Ciucci said he grew up
in a neighborhood comprised of Irish, Italian
and German families, “and when the guys
reached adulthood, they either became firefighters,
police officers, worked for PG&E or the
phone company,” he explained.
“I have this close childhood friend, Frank
Walsh, who worked for the Santa Clara Fire Department.
Having no brothers, Frank and I had always been
close. At the end of our workdays, Frank would
tell me how he saved two people from a traffic
accident. At best, I could only tell him how
a Redevelopment Agency meeting went. In terms
of job satisfaction, there was no comparison,
and mine never seemed to keep pace with Frank’s,”
In 1979, at 30 years old, married but with no
children yet, Ciucci left the Redevelopment
Agency, and took a pay cut of nearly 50% to
become a firefighter. “My mother was devastated,”
he said. But with the personal and financial
support of his wife, Debbie, Ciucci took the
written test, passed the physical exam and waited
for 11 months to get the call.
“Difficult as it was, I never regretted
making that decision. I never looked back,”
Four years later, in 1983, Ciucci was promoted
to Engineer Operator. In 1985, he became Captain.
In January 1989, he was made Acting Training
Chief. On February 1, 1990, his appointment
to Training Chief was official. Last year, in
April 2002, Daly City asked Ciucci to add “Acting
Assistant Fire Chief” to his myriad of
responsibilities. At age 55, he accepted the
challenge, and concurrently holds both positions.
Most notable achievements during Ciucci’s
24-year tenure in the fire service include being
a major player in the implementation of the
DCFD’s Paramedic program, as well as San
Mateo County’s nationally recognized Advanced
Life Support and Emergency Medical Services
(EMS) program. He developed two comprehensive
training guides, both of which are over 100
pages in length and utilized as a model by other
fire agencies statewide. For over 25 years,
he has been an active Board Director for the
annual Operation Santa Claus drive. He developed
and supervised the construction of a unique
training facility for DCFD and county firefighters
located at Fire Station #94. He is an expert
in auto extrication and provides this expertise
training for local and county firefighter recruits.
He assisted in the construction design of the
recently built Fire Station #93, with cost-effective
modular features. He has been successful in
seeking local grants to fund specialized training
equipment, public education and community outreach.
He is a state-certified Master Instructor, Level
III Instructor Certificate, and holds a lifetime
“Don’s accomplishments have earned
him a unique classification few, if any, could
equal nor surpass, locally or statewide. He
is indeed a rare find, and the City of Daly
City has reaped the rewards of having someone
of his stature, vision, intelligence and leadership
qualities over the span of three decades. He
deserves not only our congratulations on receiving
this state award, but also our collective grand
salute,” offered Daly City Mayor Adrienne
Of his numerous achievements, Chief Ciucci took
particular pride in the DCFD personnel. “I
consider our team to be the best in Northern
California, and I would like to think I helped
define it. I am most proud to see that people
in my own organization value training as much
as I do. I really believe in the benefit of
training. To emphasize this concept, my training
van has a sign painted on it that reads: ‘Preparation
determines performance’,” he explained.
“Within the Daly City fire personnel,
there are a number of excellent instructors.
If in some small way, I was able to influence
their interest in training, then that’s
what this award is all about,” Chief Ciucci
The CSFA recognized this year’s awardees
at a conference attended by over 5,000 firefighters,
held in San Diego last month. According to a
CSFA official, over 100 nominees were in contention
for the “Training Officer of the Year”
Chief Ciucci and wife, Debbie, are long time
residents of Pacifica. They have two children:
Angelina, 21, and Matthew, 17.