Brian Culp has been the fire chief of the Valencia County Fire Department since December 2016. He has been part of the Valencia County fire service since he was 13, starting at the Los Chavez Fire Department as a junior member. He lives in the community of Tomé with his wife, Rachael.
Q What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?
A “It depends on what vehicle I am in. If I am in my county unit, it will be about fire department operations that I need to do for the day. If I am in my Jeep, I think about going on an adventure and getting lost somewhere.”
Valencia County Fire Chief Brian Culp has been chief since 2016.
Q What’s a myth about your profession you’d like to bust?
A “That we are adrenaline seekers. It takes a lot to be a firefighter or an EMT. There are many sleepless nights, and some have problems handling what they have seen while on the job.”
Q What were you like in high school?
A “I think I was quiet, but I was involved in sports and student government.”
Q What is the best advice you’ve ever received and from whom?
A “I honestly cannot remember.”
Q What did you want to be when you grew up?
A “When I was younger, I wanted to be a physician assistant, but the more that I was with the fire department, it was something that I wanted to continue to do.”
Q Who inspires you?
A “Many different people inspire me, but the fire department volunteers and career staff inspire me for their dedication to serving the county and helping our residents. It is what keeps me wanting to move the fire department forward.”
Q If you could work any other job for one day, what would it be and why?
A “I would work on a crab boat, just to know the amount of hard work that they put in.”
Q What do you do in your free time?
A “My free time is limited because I spend a lot of my time taking courses for my master’s degree. But I will spend time working on my Jeep, or going out and trying different foods with my wife.”
Q What’s something about you most people don’t know?
A “My first name is Alton, and my initials are ABC. I am the fifth (in my family) with the initials ABC.”
Q What three books would you to take to a deserted island?
A “The Bible, “Watership Down,” and “The Grapes of Wrath.””
Q You find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
A “I would never have the luck of finding such a ticket, but I would pay off my bills and travel if I did.”
Q Who is your best friend and why?
A “My wife is my best friend. She has encouraged me to obtain higher education and supports me in bettering myself as a person.”
Q What’s your favorite song to sing when you’re alone?
A “No one wants to hear me sing, including myself, but I like to listen to different music. I will say that old school rock, like Metallica, is always a favorite.”
Q Where is your happy place, and why?
A “My happy place is at home. I enjoy spending time with my wife and just hanging out and watching movies.”
Q Have you had a life-changing experience that led you to where you are today?
A “In April 2016, I attended a presentation from the deputy director of the U.S. Fire Administration, Dr. Denis Onieal, at the National Fire Academy. He talked about professional development and what it takes to become a well-rounded fire chief. His presentation motivated me and changed my thoughts on how to become a better fire chief.”
Q What teacher had the greatest impact on you?
A “This has to be one of the most challenging questions to answer, but coach Jerry Moya has to be the one who had the most significant impact on me. He taught all us that were part of the wrestling team how to have dedication and commitment. I have a lot of respect for coach Moya.”
Q What is your favorite movie scene and why?
A “That is an easy question. “Backdraft,” where the investigator is talking with Brian and explains fire, ‘It’s a living thing, Brian. It breathes, it eats, and it hates. The only way to beat it is to think like it. To know that this flame will spread this way across the door and up across the ceiling, not because of the physics of flammable liquids, but because it wants to.’
“Having been in the fire department for two years (at the time), this was a great movie, and is probably why one of my first jobs in the fire service was being a fire investigator.”
Q If you could have dinner with one famous person — dead or alive — who would it be and why?
A “President Abraham Lincoln. I think that his presidency during the Civil War, having to deal with a divided nation and having to go to war against the South, must play on your mind every day. I would like to ask him questions and get his thoughts on how to bring our nation together now.”
Q What are you most proud of?
A “I am proud that I have learned from past life experiences, which have made me a better and happier person now.”
Q How would you like to be remembered?
A “I hope to be remembered as a person who did what I could to help make things better.”
The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.