The City of Chickasha recently announced that Tony Samaniego would serve as the City’s next Fire Chief. Samaniego served as Interim Chief since 2020 prior to his promotion on February 1.
“What drew me to Tony is how consistent and business-minded he is,” said Chickasha Mayor Chris Mosley. “He understands both the firefighter position and the management position, and although we had multiple very good candidates, Tony rose to the top. He seems very excited about his new role and I am excited about our future with him.”
Samaniego started his career in the fire service in 2005 as a volunteer with the Newcastle Fire Department, moving up the ranks within their department before being hired as Chickasha’s Deputy Chief in 2019. For 8 years he has worked as a Field Instructor for OSU Fire Service Training, teaching classes in confined space rescue, trench rescue and more.
Samaniego said his interest in becoming a firefighter began after initially going to school to be a teacher and football coach.
“My uncle retired as Assistant Chief in Moore,” Samaniego said. “I figured out teaching and coaching wasn’t for me, but I missed the team atmosphere of sports. I started applying to fire departments but didn’t have my EMT certification, so I asked my uncle what I needed to do to get an interview.”
His uncle said he needed to get his EMT certification and suggested applying to be a volunteer fireman.
“I lived in Moore at the time, and the only place that would accept people outside of their own city limits was Newcastle,” he said. “On my first day as a volunteer I caught a grass fire.”
After that grass fire, Samaniego knew firefighting was his future. On his way home from his full-time job as a restaurant manager, he passed Moore Norman Technology Center and decided to pursue this career change.
“On my way home from work I decided I need to take that EMT class,” Samaniego said. “I spent $500 to secure my spot in the class to start EMT school, then picked up extra shifts at work to cover rent the next week!”
Samaniego described himself as an adrenaline junkie, and said he enjoys the team atmosphere of firefighting as well as the change every day brings.
As he settles into his new role as Fire Chief, Samaniego said he wants to talk to the firemen and see what is important to them and changes or tweaks they believe need to be made.
“The fire department is the ultimate team sport in my mind, so as with any team, we have to have buy-in from everyone involved,” he said. “I’d like to get our guys’ opinions and viewpoints on where they think the Chickasha Fire Department can and should be.”
Samaniego said the Chickasha Fire Department is unique because of the wide range of services the department covers.
“We are the only department in the state that handles emergency management in-house,” Samaniego said. “We have the ambulance service, a HAZ-MAT team, a technical response team, and of course we fight fires. We also do fire inspections and arson investigations, so we truly cover all aspects of an emergency.”
Through Oklahoma Homeland Security, the Chickasha Fire Department operates a regional response truck and trailer, and over the last couple of years, a technical rescue team has been assembled and trained to respond confined space rescues, trench rescues, dive rescues, structural collapses and swift water rescues.
In addition to responding to emergencies, Samaniego wants the department to be active and visible in the community.
“A few months ago, a crew stopped at a lemonade stand on the side of the road here in town,” he explained. “The impact our department can have on children through these interactions is something they’ll remember. Our team is very excited to continue to get out and do more in the community.”
Several members of the department also helped with a day of ringing bells to fundraise for the Salvation Army last December.
Samaniego said he is excited for the future in Chickasha.
“We have really hardworking, talented firemen,” he said. “I am excited to build upon the foundation that has been set here and move forward with our team.”
When he’s not at the fire station, Samaniego enjoys helping his wife, Cecily, at the business she owns and playing basketball with their children.