Chamber: SPFD Eng. Leon honored as
Public Safety Officer of the Quarter
August 20, 2014
Santa Paula News
A truly “homegrown” firefighter was honored as the Public Safety Officer of the Quarter at the August Good Morning Santa Paula!
Santa Paula Fire Chief Rick Araiza said it was his “great pleasure” to introduce Engineer David Leon, who was honored by the Chamber of Commerce at their monthly breakfast meeting.
“David is a homegrown boy, he was born in Ventura and raised here in Santa Paula. Firefighter Leon came to us six years ago,” as a Reserve while also working for a private ambulance company.
Two years ago the city was awarded a federal SAFER grant, which provided the funds for the SPFD to hire an additional five full-time firefighters for a two-year period.
“We hired David two years ago and over that time he has excelled, so much so that two years ago he became an acting engineer... “
Araiza said a firefighter retirement “Had a domino effect,” and created a full-time permanent opening and Leon, “Not only excelled in the testing, he’s now a full-time engineer. He got promoted one month ago.”
Leon is “One of those silent leaders,” that Araiza said, “helps with all our training and even on his days off shows up at our station always willing to help.”
Ironically, Araiza said, “I’ve known him all his life... David has a unique,” connection to the Araiza family.
“I first saw David when he was born... my son and him share the same birthday, were born the same hour, and David was in the bassinet next to my son!”
Of course, noted Araiza, there was an early challenge: “David had some sort of trouble being born... and had a cone head,” that gradually abated as Leon grew up with Araiza’s son.
“So obviously I know all about David, what a quality person he is and I was just happy I could hire him when he said he wanted to be a firefighter,” and firefighting proved to be a perfect career match.
Araiza said, “I’m proud of what he’s done,” and he introduced Leon’s wife Evelyn and daughter Eva.
Good Morning Santa Paula Moderator Ben Schuck presented Leon with the Public Safety Officer of the Quarter Award, “In recognition of your service to us.”
“I thank you,” said Leon. “I do take great pride in serving the community I call home... “