Fire Marshal Joe Bracamonte paused mid-sentence as a call came over the radio. “It’s a motorcycle accident, looks like they are going to bring in a helicopter,” said Bracamonte. “This is probably going to be the hardest part, not answering the call.”
“Other guys say they won’t miss getting called out at 2 a.m.,” he said. “But I’ll tell you what, that’s exactly what I’m going to miss the most.”
It’s been 25 years since Joe Bracamonte was hired on full-time by the Globe Fire Department and tomorrow, September 30, is his last day. “I’m emotional, definitely emotional,” he said as he stared at the radio waiting to see if it was a chopper they called or if the patient could be transported by ambulance.
Bracamonte’s distinguished career with Globe Fire started when he signed up as a volunteer in 1993. Three years later he was hired on full-time and spent the next five years “on the trucks.” About that time Bracamonte developed an interest in fire investigation and fire codes. He followed his heart and took the necessary classes required to land the job of Fire Marshal; a title he would proudly carry for the next 20 years.
In 2007, Bracamonte’s job description changed in a big way that would forever imprint his career and life. He became a dog handler. “The community gathered funds for the purchase of an arson dog,” he said. “It was $7,500 and it all went to purchase K-9 Frank.” Bracamonte drove to Florence, Texas and at the Southern Star K-9 Ranch he was greeted by a black lab. Bracamonte said he knew right away he was the right dog for Globe. K-9 Frank served on active duty from 2007 to 2011 until he retired and was given to Bracamonte. He passed away on Sept. 10, 2015 and will forever be missed by the community and local schoolchildren who loved Frank. He was Globe Fire Department’s first arson dog. “Frank was one-of-a-kind,” said Bracamonte.
The same year Frank retired, Bracamonte welcomed Evo, a Belgian Malinois from Pacific Coast K-9 out of Washington state. Evo was trained by Gila County Sheriff’s K-9 Supervisor Travis Baxley. “Freeport McMoRan donated $6,500 for the purchase of Evo,” Bracamonte said. “She’s going to be 11 in January and will be retiring the same day as me.” Over the years Evo is accredited with 60 arrests and convictions, with six of those being arson and homicide investigations. “Together we’ve been deployed in 11 counties and have worked three arson cases for the FBI,” said Bracamonte. “We are actually one of three arson K-9 teams in the state.”
The extensive list of programs, fire investigations and educational services that Bracamonte has taken part in is notable. “I’ve ended up doing a lot of things that other Fire Marshals don’t do, like wildland investigations and bringing in the dog to help with other departments,” he said.
He worked both the Pioneer Hotel fire and the Copper Hills fire (teamed with ATF), conducted an article search after the Jammerz shooting and worked a triple fatality fire in Casa Grande. Bracamonte developed and taught a fire safety program in all Globe-Miami schools, dedicated over 20 years to fire education services, started Frank’s K-9 Christmas in local nursing homes and partnered with Judy’s Cookhouse for annual Christmas donations. He worked several fire investigations for the State Land Forestry, U.S. Forest Service, BIA, Graham County Sheriff’s Office, Navajo County Sheriff’s Office and Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. Bracamonte has also been a member of the Pinal County Arson Task Force for several years. All together he has worked over 1,200 fires.
“I just want to take a second to thank all of the business owners and managers for their cooperation with me as a fire marshal,” he said. “I’m lucky I got to do what I love for a long time.” In the future, Bracamonte is looking at a K-9 handler opportunity in the East Valley that will allow him to stay in the area. He is also looking forward to spending more time with his daughter Bobbie, who is a firefighter and RN for the Tri-City Fire Department, and his granddaughter Chadleigh, whom he affectionately calls “Nugget.”
Congratulations on your retirement, Fire Marshal Joe Bracamonte!