Andy VanSciver honored as Firefighter of the Year
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: December 19, 2012
When Santa reached in his bag last week he had plenty of toys for the kids - and one shiny new award for Andy VanSciver, the 2012 Santa Paula Firefighter of the Year.
It was the second time in his short career that VanSciver was honored with the top award, given by the Santa Paula Fire Fighters Association at its annual Family Christmas Party held December 12 at the Community Center. VanSciver, the 2009 Firefighter of the Year, has been honored various times by his peers although he is a Reserve and not a full-time firefighter.
He is affectionately known within the SPFD as “Radar” for his talent in obtaining whatever the department needs. The “Radar” nickname is derived from a character in the film and long-running television series “MASH,” who was able to find anything at any time needed by his military medical unit serving in the Korean War.
Fire Chief Rick Araiza said, “Everyone is so important and does so much... we’re so small that everyone has to pick up the slack.” But VanSciver picks up even more slack by working closely with his companion Marleen Canniff on securing grants.
Araiza said such efforts resulted last summer in a $800,000-plus federal grant awarded the city to hire five full-time firefighters. VanSciver, an executive with Fire Chief magazine, declined the full-time firefighter position he was offered.
Araiza noted although VanSciver is a longtime volunteer with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue, “It’s funny” how he became a SPFD Reserve Firefighter. More than four years ago the SPFD “was called to a structure fire on Richmond Road, and when we got there” VanSciver had evacuated the resident and attacked the fire with a garden hose.
Araiza discovered shortly thereafter the citizen the SPFD was going to recognize as a Good Samaritan had applied to become a Reserve Firefighter, but hadn’t been hired due to some missed classes. Needless to say VanSciver was encouraged to again apply, was hired, and has been a highly valued firefighter ever since as well as a high-ranking SPFFA board officer.
“Andy’s just been unbelievable, taken on more than any other guy has taken on,” and has proven to be a master in acquisitions - ranging from free and discounted equipment to grant funding for same, often utilizing his wide range of contacts due to his career with Fire Chief magazine.
“I can’t tell you how much I enjoy working in the Santa Paula Fire Department,” said VanSciver. “It’s a hobby that I love.”
Those on hand to offer congratulations included Vice Mayor Rick Cook, Councilman Martin Hernandez and City Manager Jaime Fontes. VanSciver’s efforts on behalf of the Santa Paula Fire Department have also been honored numerous times by the Chamber of Commerce.