He’s a fixture in the Bakersfield Fire Department.
A mentor and friend to many – a legend to most.
Now after 35 years, Capt. Pat Caprioli is preparing to work his final shift.
“I’m not legendary, I’m just a relic,” laughed Capt. Pat Caprioli.
Capt. Caprioli joined the Bakersfield Fire Department in 1984.
“I can’t say I’ve seen everything, but I’ve seen most of everything,” Caprioli said.
His heart wasn’t always set on becoming a firefighter
“As a kid I wanted to be a pro football player, but that didn’t workout,” Caprioli laughed.
Then one summer he decided to join a volunteer hand crew in Los Angeles.
“And that’s when I knew I wanted to be a firefighter,” Caprioli said.
More than three decades later he’s the longest tenured employee in the Bakersfield Fire Department.
“I’ve been here longer than anyone else. I can span generations. I can explain why things are the way they are now because of the events that caused it to change,” Caprioli said.
Perhaps one of the most unique things about Capt. Caprioli is that he remained a captain.
Despite having the qualifications to move up the ladder, he didn’t.
“My mom and dad had influence on that. They loved what they did and they did it their whole life. I reached the rank that I thought I always wanted to be at and I love fighting fire, I love rescues, I love going on calls, to me that’s being a firefighter,” Caprioli said.
He’s fought thousands of fires and answered hundreds of thousands of calls.
The biggest call on September 11th.
“It was surreal. I never knew the word surreal. I never used it, but it looked like a movie set. It was something that could not have been real,” Caprioli said.
Looking back on it all the public servant says, “it’s my time to go.”
It won’t be easy.
“Once a firefighter, always a firefighter,” Caprioli said.
His fellow firefighters on his mind as he prepares to say goodbye.
“They’re brothers and sisters. You know we count on each other, we have eachothers back, it’s like one big family,” Caprioli said.
“It’s going to be very sad to lose Capt. Caprioli. He was my training captain when I came on almost 27 years ago. I mean he’s a mentor to everybody on this job that’s gone through here. He’s the consumate firefighter. Everything about him is excitement. Every day he comes to work he has a smile on his face. He’s energetic. He loves this job. And even better than that, he’s just a good man,” said Bakersfield Fire Chief Anthony Galagaza.
A firefighters firefighter who will truly be missed.
“He was my training captain in 1999 and he’s taught me and molded me into the person I am today,” said Batt. Chief Mike Walkley.
His parting advice…
“Love the job. If you don’t love the job leave. You’re not welcome. Have enthusiasm for the job. There’s going to be bad times, but it’s literally the best job in the world. If I had to do it again I would,” Caprioli said.
Capt. Caprioli admits he’s an emotional guy.
“The saying around here, when I retire is that I’m going to create two polls and one is how soon I cry and the other poll is going to be how often,” Caprioli said.
Well, if your in on one of those polls, I asked Capt. Caprioli how his firefighter family might fare without him. He choked up on his answer.
“You got me. They’re going to be fine without me. Bakersfield City is an awesome place to live. It’s a great place to raise a family and I’ve been blessed to have it all. I leave with my heart full,” Caprioli said.
Capt. Caprioli will work his final shift on December 28.