Ormond Beach fire chief reminisces on career, what it means to serve
Ormond Beach Fire Chief Bob Mandarino has always loved serving others, whether it be from behind a desk or out in the field.
As a firefighter who rose through the ranks over his 21 years of service to Ormond Beach, he's responded to all sorts of hazards and resident calls. He was a young firefighter during the wildfires of 1998, when the department evacuated over 15,000 residents. He was deployed to Biloxi, Mississippi, for 10 days after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the town.
“That’s what our job is, you know," Mandarino said. "You don’t really need to thank us, but when they do, it touches your heart.”
Mandarino's last day as the city's fire chief is Friday, June 29. Though he was born in New York, he moved to Ormond Beach in 1964 when his father was transferred to work at Boeing. After he graduated from Seabreeze, Mandarino attended the University of Florida where he majored in engineering.
However, that field didn't call out to him as much as the service industry did. After graduation, he ended up getting a job managing the Treasure Island Inn.
“That’s what our job is, you know. You don’t really need to thank us, but when they do, it touches your heart.”
Bob Mandarino, Ormond Beach Fire Chief
Firefighting was always in the back of his mind, but at the time, it didn't make sense financially to pursue it. He got his chance later when he began his own real estate appraisal company and didn't have to worry about the effects of working for $5 an hour as a firefighter.
It started out as his side job and became his career. After one year as a firefighter in South Daytona, he accepted a job in the Ormond Beach Fire Department.
Through his years, he said he enjoyed the versatility of the job. The Fire Department gets a range of calls, from hazardous gas leaks to people with minor injuries seeking help, even to residents calling to inquire about how to pay their electric bill.
“It’s unique, but we’re there to serve," Mandarino said.
Now that his retirement has arrived, Mandarino looks forward to spending time with family and traveling without short timeframes. After the Fourth of July, he plans to drive his boat to the Bahamas and stay there for a couple of weeks.
Australia, Spain and Italy are also in the books for Mandarino as he looks forward to visiting family members he hasn't seen in a while. And when people ask whether he will go back to real estate appraisals, Mandarino replies with a definitive "nope."
“I’m retiring to retire," Mandarino said. "If I wanted to keep working, I would stay here working.”