About The Fire Department
The Gila River Fire Department was established by GRIC between 1955 and 1962 as a volunteer fire agency over the large land base of 584 sq mi. As economic development and contemporary challenges increased on the community, GRIC recognized the need for a full-time professional fire department. In 1995, Governor Mary Thomas and former Blackwater volunteer fire chief Cecil Antone, ushered in the transition of the volunteer agency to a professionally trained organization that was designed to meet the dynamic fire/rescue/ems needs of the community. The Fire Department was equipped with the ability to adapt to the emergencies of all people within the community and to our neighboring mutual-aid partners when necessary.
Fire Chief Kathy Garcia
Fire Chief – Gila River Fire Department
5002 N. Maricopa Road
Chandler, Az. 85226
The History of our Badge
The badge worn by firefighters is a symbol of protection and honor and when an individual earns the right to wear it, they join a long tradition of service and courage. The GRFD Maltese is a badge that carries several hundred years of blended O'odham and Miligan (Caucasian) heritage and culture. It originates with The Knights of Malta, an order initially dedicated to caring for the sick and injured in hospice. The order was established in the early crusades of Europe. Centuries later in 1565 on the island of Malta, the Knights were under a great siege where fire was utilized as a primary weapon. Amidst the defense, the Knights banded together to fight the flames and care for their injured brothers. The eight pointed cross became associated with the Order of St. John for their care and stewardship at an early point in their establishment.
The fire service adopted the Maltese Cross post civil war era for the Knights of Malta represented many similar attributes that the fire service possessed. There are many variations of fire badges that contain the Maltese cross and they typically display traditional tools of the firefighting trade such as an axe and ladder. The different tools represent the firefighter's preparedness to accomplish any task that is asked of them. The bugles or fire trumpets, represent leadership. As the amount of bugles increase on an insignia, the higher the rank of that individual. In the 18th and 19th century, fire trumpets or bugles were used to shout out orders on the fire scene by the foreman or engineer. Anyone holding the bugle would be easily identified as the leader of that fire company.
The GRFD Maltese is a blend of traditional firefighter values and O'odham culture and traditions. In the center of the Maltese is the GRIC seal, indicating who our members' dedication is to. There are 7 flute players around the seal which are representative of the 7 districts on the community. The flute player is identified with the entire southwest not just GRIC, and it symbolizes that we are all connected. On the left arm of the cross is a Pii Pash (Maricopa) pottery which was traditionally used as a water container thus the water symbol across the gourd. On the right is a fire hydrant and O'odham basket with a sivlik (whirlwind) design on it. The whirlwind is indicative of the force of the water contained inside the hydrant.
The badge we wear today is a symbol that extends beyond an identification of employment, but rather indicates the dedication to accept the responsibility of placing ourselves between any situation to protect property and lives for the people within the community. The badge a firefighter wears on his/her uniform is a reminder of our stewardship and dedication to the people we serve. The Maltese Cross has become a symbol of courage, goodwill and compassion; it as a badge of honor to anyone who earns the right to wear it.
Thank you to former GRFD and GRIC community members Mr. Jiivik Siiki (Adrian Hendricks), Mr. Troy Whitman and Mr. Mario Garcia for instilling much of the department culture and the design of many of our logos. Other sources found here, and here.