MARICOPA — When asked about Lonnie Inskeep, retiring assistant chief of the Maricopa Fire and Medical Department, the fire chief and staff replied with words of honor and praise.
“It’s an end of an era,” said Maricopa Fire Chief Brady Leffler. “I’m sad to see him go, but it’s long overdue. No one has earned it more than he has.”
Inskeep is ending his 24-year career working in fire departments, from serving as a part-time firefighter in the Ak-Chin Indian Community to becoming the assistant chief in Maricopa. He was the ninth employee for the Maricopa Fire District when hired as a firefighter in 2005 and from then on, he has continued to make an impact on the Maricopa community.
“I’ve watched this department grow from nothing to four full brick-and-mortar stations,” Inskeep said.
What started his career was a simple interest that he and his wife, Cindy, took in taking an EMT training class at Ak-Chin in 1995. From then, he moved up from a part-time firefighter to full-time, eventually becoming a captain at MFMD in 2007.
In 2008, he moved to administration, where his role was to work behind the scenes with duties such as buying the trucks and equipment, working with the budgets and working on some of the necessary infrastructure for the department.
“There are a lot of parts of being a firefighter I miss. I miss the fun time you have on the truck,” Inskeep said. “There’s no better feeling for a firefighter to get somebody loaded in the ambulance as quickly as possible. It’s an instant gratification.”
Though many of the projects were not easy tasks and could take up to four or five years to attain, he mentioned that building Station 5 and working with the police department to build a new communications tower were by far the most memorable and exciting times at his job.
Engineer and paramedic Carlos Schulz was hired on with Inskeep, working together and continuing their friendship since the beginning.
“He’s one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met,” Schulz said. “Without him, we would have not been able to get to where we are in such a short period of time.”
Inskeep emphasized his devotion to the city of Maricopa and the people he has worked with.
“I’m going to miss the people of the job,” Inskeep said. “In this position I get to work with council members and the mayor, and a lot of the finance department on the budget.”
He said it has been an honor to serve the people of Maricopa.
“It’s amazing what this small community has gotten done in the past 10 years. Just to build a city from ground zero to where it is now,” Inskeep said. “Even though Maricopa is growing big, it’s still a community where the people care about each other. And it’s the same with the fire and police department. They’re all trying to make this a better place to live.”
He wishes to see the department move forward after his retirement and to see Jerome Schirmer, the new assistant chief, “knock it out of the park.”