Tassoni named SFRD’s new fire marshal
Knowing that his predecessor spent 31 with the Sanibel Fire & Rescue District, Rick Tassono realized that he has some pretty big shoes to fill when he arrived on the island in early March.
However, Tassoni has made fast friends since joining the district as the new fire marshal, hoping that while his tenure won’t be as long as Don Frye’s, his passion for serving the Sanibel community is equal.
“I’m still getting familiar with the island,” Tassoni said. “This department has a great chief and a fantastic crew… everybody has been understanding and supportive of me coming here. I’m proud to be associated with this department.”
A native of Montreal, Canada, Tassoni grew up with several members of his family serving as firefighters, including his cousin, a 20-year-plus member of the New York Fire Department. In his early 20s, he moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. in order to start a career in the restaurant business.
“I discovered very quickly that wasn’t my cup of tea,” he added with a laugh.
In 1987, Tassoni was encouraged by his firefighter cousin — who had retired to Bonita Springs — to follow in his footsteps. He completed the training course and became a firefighter himself, working in Bonita Springs for two-and-a-half years before moving to the Cape Coral Fire Department, where he settled for six years.
“I moved to Cape Coral because there was a better opportunity for growth,” said Tassoni, who tested for and became certified for a fire prevention bureau position in 1993.
In 2008, Tassoni was named battalion chief and assistant fire marshal in Cape Coral. However, he opted to retire later that same year.
“I did a lot of boating and fishing and traveling for two years,” he recalled. “But I missed the whole fire department setting, being out in the public and helping the community. It sounds corny, but it’s the truth.”
Tassoni learned of an open position in Monroe County — whose region spans from Key Largo to Key West — and in January started work as their assistant fire marshal and fire investigator.
“My goal then was to sell my house and go live in the Keys,” said Tassoni. “But then a friend of mine, Bill Van Helden, called me and said that there was a position opening up on Sanibel that I might be interested in.”
With Frye retired, the Sanibel fire marshal job appealed very much to Tassoni, whose philosophy as a firefighter is compliance by education.
“Best of all, it meant I didn’t have to sell my house,” he said. “I’ve been here for 28 years… this is my home.”
Joining the district on March 7, Tassoni mentioned a number of short- and long-term goals.
“I’d like to set up some policies and procedures that will help bring us into the 21st century,” Tassoni stated. “Statistics are very important to me. I like to measure where we are as far as fire safety and programs. Long term? I’d like to stay here for 10 years. That isn’t long for me, but that’s my goal.”