January 2012

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 12 of 83

liveIn the Moment Where it all Began While Amesqua made a name for herself as fi re chief, music has also been a lifelong passion. A music major in college, she even considered making it a career—save for one problem: "I used to have panic attacks before concerts," she says with a laugh. "And I thought, there's got to be a better way to make a living," with Debra Amesqua Madison's retiring fi re chief suits up to say goodbye It may seem like a given, but when you're the city's fi re chief you don't get to choose what you don to work. Every day it's a crisp white shirt, shiny black shoes and that authoritative jacket topped by the chief's iconic badge. And as retiring Chief Debra Amesqua explains, when you're in your last days of service after 16 years, that ritual begins to take on a special signifi cance. "Th is morning I realized that after so many years of putting on a uniform with such a long and illustrious tradition… that now I'm going to have to fi gure out what to wear every day!" she explains with a laugh. "It was such an a-ha moment, it brought me to tears and joy." She may be experiencing the mixed emotions that often go along with taking that next big step in life, but the 60-year-old Amesqua says readying for retirement has, more than anything, fi lled her with excitement. Th ere's much to celebrate. One of the fi rst female fi refi ghters in the country, Amesqua became the fi rst woman to lead the Madison Fire Department and was in- strumental in smoothing out the conten- tious relationship that existed between the department's union members and man- agement. She went on to assemble a strong department she knew Madison could be proud of. "I've hired three-quarters of our de- partment," she says. "Th ey will be my legacy for decades to come." And while her replacement has yet to be announced, Amesqua has her own plans set. Moving to Florida, where she got her start as a fi refi ghter in 1983, she'll be de- voting more time to one of her favorite hobbies, building mandolins—which she may even turn into a small business. "It's going to be a slower and warmer life," she explains. One that's very well deserved. January 2012 11 Photo by Shanna Wolf

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Brava - January 2012