by Dennis B. Light, Fire Chief, Prescott Fire Department
Although credit for the famous quote “choose a job that you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” is uncertain, the certainty with which Prescott Fire Department Division Chief/Fire Marshal Don Devendorf has approached the past 35-plus years has led to a safer community for all Prescottonians.
Humility is a trait carried by most first responders that serve this community. Often categorized as “heroes,” all those who serve readily downplay the tag and attribute their efforts as being “just part of the job.” This rings true when engaging Chief Devendorf in his current role as fire marshal or many of the past roles from which he’s served our community.
Don relocated to Prescott in the 1980s to pursue his passion for flying and attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. However with tuition money running low, a change to his intended career path was in order. Hence the much younger Don made all the necessary preparations for a career in the fire service.
He sought out the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities toward making himself a viable candidate. Beginning his service as a reserve member with the Central Yavapai Fire District, he soon entered the ranks of the Prescott Fire Department as a firefighter/emergency medical technician.
Over the course of the next three decades Don has had the opportunity to serve in virtually every position the fire service has to offer. Under a variety of nicknames ranging from “Doc” or “Double D” to the most recently coined “Silver Fox,” Don’s heart rests with the safety and betterment of the greater Prescott community.
Don has very much become the face of the Prescott Fire Department over his career. Beginning as an entry-level firefighter who was promoted through the ranks to his current position as division chief, his stops along the way have included roles as fire engineer, captain, operations battalion chief, special weapons and tactics medic, and public information officer, most recently serving as the City of Prescott fire marshal.
Don was on the ground floor when it came to the consolidation of the surrounding communities’ 911 dispatch centers following a tragic mishap that was amplified by a lack of interoperable communications. He worked with all the local fire and law enforcement leadership and as a net result the Prescott Regional Communications Center was born. Today this center is the primary public safety answering point for the City of Prescott police and fire departments, Prescott Valley Police Department, Yavapai Prescott Tribal Police Department, and the Yavapai College Police Department, in addition to Central Arizona Fire & Medical Authority, Groom Creek Fire District and Walker Fire Protection Association.
Described by many as approachable, friendly and full of wisdom, Don has devoted virtually all of his adult life to serving and protecting others.
As his career sunsets, he’s planning to take things a bit easier, at least for a few days before signing on for the next adventure. Don, you will be dearly missed.