John Storm joined the Maricopa Fire Department as an assistant chief 16 months ago. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

John Storm    
Assistant Fire Chief Maricopa Fire Department – Community Services,
Hometown: Des Plaines, Illinois
Residence: Phoenix
Family: Wife Lynn, sons Patrick, 27, Andrew, 25, and Eric, 22; daughter Michelle, 20; step-daughters Jordan, 21, and Addison, 6. My sons are all serving in the Air Force, my daughter attends University of Arizona, my step-daughter attends San Diego State University. I married the woman of my dreams on March 21 of this year.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in management, Benedictine University (Lisle, Illinois); master’s degree in public administration, Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois).
Hobbies: I love to golf and fish.
Years on the job: 25 years in the fire service, 24 for the Wilmette (Illinois) Fire Department and 16 months for the Maricopa Fire Department.

Why did you decide to be a first responder? I was working for United Airlines when I started my family and was looking for a more stable job. United went bankrupt not long after I left, [so it] turned out this was a good decision. I spoke with my father about testing for the police department – my father was a 33-year veteran of the police department – and his advice was to test for the fire department. In his words “everyone loves the firemen and you can’t beat the schedule.” Both turned out to be totally true!

What element of your job has been the biggest surprise to you? The biggest surprise to me over my career has been the true appreciation of the public of the efforts of all first responders, including police officers. No matter how bad people’s situations, it seems the worse it is for them personally the more appreciative they are for our efforts. The perfect example of this was early in my career we worked on a young pregnant woman who was not breathing and had no pulse. We worked feverishly on her as did the emergency room staff. Sadly, our efforts failed, but the husband could not thank us enough for trying our best. It has sat with me all these years that this guy lost two family members and he made sure he thanked us repeatedly. This example has been my motivation to do the best always because we are truly appreciated whether it is expressed or not.

Why Maricopa? After completing my 24 years in Wilmette and completing my master’s degree, I noted many advancement opportunities were out West. Maricopa was the perfect fit for many reasons. The executive staff is absolutely the best that could be put together. I also enjoy the challenge of working for a department of a growing Arizona city.

Favorite part of the job: Definitely the people I work with. Secondly, is interacting with the public whenever I get the opportunity.

Least favorite part of the job: Sounds corny, but I really can’t think of a least favorite part.

Scariest moment: The scariest moment of my career was being caught in a flashover during firefighting efforts in the basement of a home back in Illinois. The basement went from complete blackness with tons of heat to a complete fireball in about two seconds. Luckily we were just behind a door in the basement which saved our lives. We had other crews down to help us almost immediately, but for a few seconds the thought did occur that the outcome might not be good.

Bravest act you’ve witnessed: I watched some guys from my department go into a second floor window of a burning second-floor house fire to get to a trapped 8-year-old girl and her father. The whole second floor was on fire and these three guys went in to find the two trapped people without the protection of a hose line (which was being stretched at the time they entered the second floor). They found both people and were able to successfully remove both from the house. Most courageous and work-intensive act I have ever witnessed due to the father being over 300 pounds and they removed him on a ladder unconscious.

What you wish all residents knew about your department: I wish all residents knew that this group of firefighting personnel are the best in the state. I also wish the residents knew how these personnel work so hard to keep the residents and everyone who plays and works in Maricopa the safest they can possibly be.

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