Q&A with the Fire Chief

Allison B. Hudson

Name:  Chuck Montero

Age:  53

Position:  Fire Chief

Hometown:  Donaldsonville

Education and experience:  I’m a graduate of Donaldsonville High School.  I attended Nicholls State University.  I have been employed at the fire department for 27 years.  In that time, I have attended numerous educational classes and achieved several certifications.

Family:  I have two children, Tyler 13 and Karli 11.

In several sentences explain why you decided to choose this profession?

Well, before I was hired, I became a volunteer fireman.  A friend of mine convinced me it was fun and exciting, so I joined the department.  About two years later, the opportunity to actually get paid to do this presented itself.  I took the opportunity.  I really never thought of it as a career choice, I just stuck around because I enjoyed it.

Who inspired you and how?   Early on, I think it was Jimmy LeBlanc with his skills in vehicle extrication.  And of course, Kirk Landry, who really made some great improvements in the department.  But through my career, it was August Bradford who always made me feel like I was making a difference here.

What are the greatest challenges in your field?  Money and manpower.  The cost of operations and equipment has continued to increase.  Our budget has not kept up with these increases.  We have to try to do the same job with less.  Also, people in general (not just here) do not volunteer as much as in the past.  It is getting harder and harder to recruit and keep volunteers.  There’s also more required of volunteers today.  People used to be happy if someone showed up to help, now they expect a professional emergency responder.  We have to deliver that professional response.

What are your daily duties in your position?  Most of my daily duties involve supervising the employees, scheduling, maintenance, and responding to emergencies.

What’s something about your line of work that most people don’t know?  I don’t think most people realize that 80 percent of our calls are medical calls.  Also, I think a lot of people don’t realize the stress of this job.  There is a lot of stress going from a sound sleep in the middle of the night to dealing with a life-threatening emergency, then trying to get back to sleep so you are rested for the next call or the next work day.  But I think the biggest thing they don’t know is that almost everyone in this profession has to do something else to be able to afford to do this for a living.

What is a memorable moment in your career and why?  There was a near-drowning of a child that we responded to.  We administered CPR and were able to revive the child.  I was able to help save a child’s life….What could top that?