Fountain Valley Fire Chief Tony Coppolino began his firefighting career with the Fountain Valley Fire Department 31 years ago, and will end his career come June 28, 2019. Chief Coppolino, 52, began with the department in 1988 as a Fire Administration Intern. In July of 1990, Chief Coppolino was hired as a firefighter, promoting to a firefighter/paramedic in 1995. In addition to working his way up the ranks within the department, Chief Coppolino also earned his Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Brandman University. Within seven years of becoming a Captain, Coppolino promoted to Battalion Chief in 2011.
With a strong work ethic, enthusiastic attitude and a strong passion to make FVFD the best department in the county, Coppolino set his sights on the Fire Chief position. In 2013, his hard work and dedication paid off and he was promoted to Fire Chief.
During his career with Fountain Valley Fire, Chief Coppolino has built an impressive list of accomplishments. He was named Firefighter of the Year in 1996, received the Chief Officers Award in 2005 and served as the Project Manager for the Orange County Fire Chief Association CA Statewide Community Paramedic Pilot Study. Additionally, Chief Coppolino served as President of the entire Orange County Fire Chiefs Association (OCFCA) as well as serving as President of the EMS and Training Officers Section for the OCFCA.
In fire service, staying with one department for your entire career is somewhat rare. The fact that Chief Coppolino started as an intern with the department and is ending his career here says a lot about the City of Fountain Valley. While there is a certain amount of sadness that comes with moving on from somewhere Chief Coppolino has spent over half his life, he is looking forward to retirement.
Raised in Fountain Valley and now residing in Huntington Beach, Chief Coppolino does not have any plans to relocate out of Orange County, however, he does plan on frequenting Lake Tahoe more often. For those who may not know, Chief Coppolino is an avid mountain biker and is often overheard gushing about one of his “awesome rides” around Tahoe. He plans on exploring the back country of the Tahoe area and enjoying time with his family (wife of 28 years, his two daughters, 21 and 23 and his son, 17).
We asked Chief Coppolino if any incident/experience stuck out when looking back at his career. He explained that he remembers the appreciation people expressed when he was deployed to the LA Riots in the early 90’s; the numerous wildfire assignments, and all the times he made a difference in someone’s life within the community responding to emergency calls. When asked what he enjoyed most about being fire chief, Tony responded, “The friendships I developed with the community and watching the people within my sphere of influence flourish”. The Fountain Valley Fire Department is a tight-knit group. Tony explained that he will miss story time at the firehouse kitchen table after the morning debrief. After 31 years, unbreakable connections and bonds have been made and although he is retiring, much like retirees before him, he will always be a part of the Fountain Valley Fire family.