New fire chief brings fresh leadership approach
A masterful communicator and people lover, 21-year veteran firefighter Stacey Giomi should bring a soft touch to his role as Carson City’s new fire chief.
This sturdy Italian could easily intimidate with his football player’s frame, deep voice and regal posture, but he chooses to wear a warm smile under his classic firefighter’s mustache, make genuine eye contact and listen.
His presence is calming. His soft gaze and gentle movements convey an unspoken reassurance.
He says compassion is the most important quality for a fire chief to have and a fire department is nothing without the spirit of teamwork.
“I want to do some team building, consensus building,” Giomi said. “I want firefighters to feel included. Firefighting has always been based on teamwork, developing relationships.”
At the mention of Giomi’s name, rank-and-file firefighters light up.
“He’s always been a good guy to us,” said six-year firefighter Brian Hunt between training sessions Thursday. “His door’s always open and he’s a great communicator. Really personable.”
“He’s come up the ranks, or he came from the floor, is what we like to say,” said 15-year veteran Carson City Fire Engineer Steve Morgan. “He listens before he jumps to conclusions.”
Giomi, 41, moved to Carson City when he was 13 years old from Redwood City, Calif., after the strip mall housing his parents’ Italian Deli burned down, most likely as a result of arson.
He attended Carson High School. Initially he was bored with small-town life, but he eventually formed a tight bond with the community, and never left.
He got married young, and immediately had two kids, son Robbie, 21, and daughter Stephanie, 19. Both attend the University of Nevada, Reno. Giomi lives in Carson City with his second wife, Trish.
The memory of that deli fire and the responding firefighters’ attitudes stuck with him through the years.
“I felt like those firefighters really went out of their way to make us feel as though they could understand what we were going through.”
He naturally gravitated toward fire prevention, starting as a volunteer firefighter for the Carson City Fire Department in 1980.
He was hired as a dispatcher in 1984 and quickly moved into the role of firefighter that November. Since then, he’s been a captain, a battalion chief and the fire marshal.
Over the last two years, he has been instrumental in securing $2 million in federal grants for fuel reduction efforts.
As the result of another $200,000 grant he applied for earlier this year, the city has a new mobile air light unit, a truck that hauls compressed air for firefighters’ breathing apparatus.
But he’s always quick to say he’s not the only one doing the footwork.
“It’s not just me,” he said. “As with anything, it takes a team.”
Giomi stepped in as chief during July’s Waterfall fire. Fire Chief Lou Buckley was vacationing in Canada. Giomi worked around the clock for two days straight, side by side with line personnel, always available.
That’s when Carson City Manager Linda Ritter was convinced Giomi should be the next chief.
“During the Waterfall fire he dealt with the public with empathy,” Ritter said Thursday. “I saw his leadership potential and his attitude and he was an easy pick. He’s a calming force in difficult situations and he knows the department.”
Throughout his service as a firefighter, Giomi had a side job as the play-by-play sports radio announcer for Carson City High School on KPTL.
“I got to see everybody’s kids play sports,” he said. “It was a community event.”
His days as an announcer are over for now. When he and Trish aren’t playing softball or golf, he’ll be focusing his attention on the good of the department.
He’d like to build a fourth station on the west side of town and staff it with an engine company. He wants another interfacility ambulance, and more federal money to prepare the city for natural disasters and terrorism.
He said he’s not looking forward to the mountain of paperwork created by his new position, but it will all be worth it.
“I’m just honored to have the opportunity to serve the people in this department and this community.”
Contact reporter Robyn Moormeister at rmoormeister @nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.