Moe Silva hasn’t really gone that far from home.
And that is just fine with the newest Escalon Fire Department Battalion Chief, who was born and raised here.
The longtime EFD firefighter has taken on an expanded role, selected as the replacement for the recently retired Battalion Chief Terry Pinheiro.
“I’ve been here since 1996, so, 24 years,” Silva said of his time with the department. “I started out as a volunteer firefighter. I had just gotten through the Firefighter I Academy in Ripon.”
The academy was relatively new to Ripon then and Silva joined the volunteer ranks in Escalon out of that training. He was hired as a fulltime firefighter for the district in November of 2003.
“It was an 8 to 5 job then,” Silva said, with firefighters coming in for a regular ‘day shift’ when he first started.
Changes in the department and the scheduling also have seen Silva work one day on, one day off during his tenure and, now, the paid personnel work shifts where they are two days on, four days off. They live at the Coley Avenue fire station during their shifts.
For Silva, working for the local department is something that just fell into place.
Born in Escalon at the former Pioneer Hospital, Silva also is a graduate of Escalon High School.
After high school, he said, he “stayed put” and “worked odds and ends” of jobs.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Silva admitted.
He was, however, friends with the cousin of current Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello – who was a captain with Escalon in the early ‘90s. Silva began spending time at the fire station and got interested in the field, with Mello suggesting he look into attending the new fire academy in Ripon.
“I went in 1995,” Silva said. “It just progressed from there and everything fell into line.”
Silva was the final choice for the Battalion Chief position following an open process, with Chief Mello indicating that they received more than 30 applications.
“We invited 12 to the assessment center and interview, then we had seven finalists that received second interviews,” Mello explained of the intensive process. “Moe has worked hard and he’s a very dedicated employee and member of the community; it’s nice to see your people succeed.”
Silva now serves as Battalion Chief for the B Shift, working with firefighter/engineer Cassidy Bohannon. Heading up the A Shift is Battalion Chief Dan Morriss and the department is utilizing overtime along with reserves and volunteers to fill the second slot on the A Shift, which used to be Silva’s position. Working on C Shift are Battalion Chief Joe Pelot with firefighter/engineer Ryan Burr.
Silva’s slot on the A Shift will eventually be filled, but Mello said it is hard right now as the state grapples with the pandemic and they are unable to bring in any potential candidates for interviews.
“Going from an equal to a supervisor, there are some adjustments needed on both sides,” Silva admitted of taking on the Battalion Chief duties.
But he said he feels the transition is going fairly smoothly and all teams are working well within the department.
Over the years, he also has seen plenty of changes not only for the department but also for the role of firefighters as well.
“The biggest change is going from an all-volunteer to all paid personnel,” he explained. “Plus all the certifications needed, firefighter, engineer, EMT; I also got my company officer certification.”
There is always the need for continuing education, he added, and firefighters also routinely respond on emergency medical service calls in addition to fires, accidents, river rescues and more.
“I still lack a little bit on the computer,” Silva said of having to do added reports and paperwork now that he is in a supervisory role, but he’s slowly adjusting to the need for more technology as part of his job.
The new role has also reenergized the lifelong Escalon resident.
“I truly am excited, the gears are turning,” he said.
Looking back over his career so far, Silva said there have been many memorable calls and he is eager to start the next chapter.
“There are higher expectations but I’m up for it,” Silva said.
He also pointed out that each day on the job brings a little something different, making each shift unique.
“It’s exciting,” Silva said. “Those tones go off and you just don’t know what it is until you get on scene.”