Gonzales named Los Lunas’ new fire marshal
It was fate that drew new Los Lunas Fire Marshal Jason Gonzales to fire fighting more than 10 years ago.
He was 16 years old when he and his two brothers decided on becoming volunteers at the Rio Grande Estates Fire Department, saying it “looked like fun.”
“It was one of those things where we saw that volunteers were needed outside the fire station in Rio Communities, so we asked our parents to go down there, and my brothers and I went down there and have been here ever since,” Gonzales said.
Little did they know that volunteering at the department would be the thing that would sculpt all three of their lives.
“We didn’t really know where we were going. We were in high school and didn’t have a direction yet,” says Gonzales of his teenage self.
Fire fighting gave him, and his brothers, that direction. His eldest brother, Steven Gonzales, went on to become the Valencia County fire chief, and his younger brother, Nathan, was one of the first firefighters hired in the county.
“We got my mom involved, too. She’s the head of the women’s auxiliary at Rio Grande Estates Fire Department,” he said, of his mother Yvonne.
Gonzales grew up in Rio Communities and graduated from Belen High School in 2002. He stayed at the RGEFD for about 12 years as a firefighter and EMT. He worked his way up the ranks to become fire chief until December of last year, when he came to the Los Lunas Fire Department, where he was working as the backup shift commander when the fire marshal position opened up.
“I made it no secret when I was hired that I wanted to be a fire marshal, whether it be state, local or county,” he said. “I like the whole aspect of fire prevention, and trying to prevent fires before they break out and helping people be more safe. And also saving the lives of my fellow brother firefighters.”
And now that his dream has come true, he says he’s humbled and that there is still a lot to learn and take in, but he’s up for the challenge.
As fire marshal, his job is to investigate fires, review building plans, work with the county emergency manager to set up response plans, coordinate all public relations and fire safety classes for the village of Los Lunas.
As a firefighter and EMT, Gonzales says he’s used to dealing with people in times of tragedy, but in his new role he is able to meet with them before tragedy strikes and try to prevent it from happening.
“Meeting the public, we’re used to seeing them at their worst when they’re troubled or when they’re hurting, and I get to go out and meet them before an incident happens and try and prevent it,” he said.
He said he also enjoys the science of fire investigation and safety appeals to him.
Now that Gonzales has reached his goal of becoming a fire marshal, he says, “It’s a lot to take in, a lot to learn still, but I’m up to the challenge.”
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