Meet the new Chief

Fire Chief Juan J. Adame proudly stands in front of the central fire station. (Photo by Terry Fitzwater)

Given the troubled times we live in 2020, everyone is looking for a hero. Kingsville found one in its new fire chief Juan J. Adame.

For the past 47 years, Adame has been a firefighter. Prior to that he spent six years in the Navy serving his country. He joined the Navy Reserves after active duty and served a total of 30 years. It’s the resume heroes are made of.

“Ever since I got out of high school, I’ve either been in the military or been a fire fighter,” Adame said a few weeks ago. “Fire service and the military is all I’ve done. My Dad was a fire fighter, my son Eric is a fire fighter and it has been something I have always enjoyed. It is what I do and love. I think it is the greatest job in the world.”

Adame was born and raised in South Texas. Growing up, his father was a firefighter in Corpus Christi. After high school, Juan joined the Navy where he served as a Gunner’s Mate for six years. After fulltime active duty he joined the Navy Reserve and served for 30 years until his retirement in 1997. 

During his time in the Navy Reserve, his unit was mobilized and he saw duty in Saudi Arabia. When Adame retired, he was a Chief Warrant Officer IV.

After leaving fulltime duty back in the early 70’s, Adame saw a help wanted ad in Corpus Christi that the fire department was hiring. He put his application in, was hired, and the rest is history.

“I came up through the ranks and did just about every job in the department,” Adame said. “I was a fire fighter, a medic, prevention, inspection, training officer, investigator - I’ve pretty much done just about everything a fire department does.”

Adame was the fire chief in Sugarland for 10 years before he started teaching at the fire fighting academy in College Station at Texas A&M.

“I felt I could make a contribution,” Adame said. “I’ve seen horrible things, like a massive grain elevator fire and major warehouse fires. But, on the other hand, I’ve even delivered a baby.”

Adame is happy to be in Kingsville, as he still has family in the Corpus Christi area.

“I think Kingsville will be the last stop in my career,” Adame said. “This is a great place to live, there are lots of things to do and see in a short distance, I have family here and I think we can do great things here and continue to build upon the great fire department we already have here.”

Adame said he is analyzing the needs and inner workings of the Kingsville Fire Department, but he is already impressed by what he has seen.

“I see an outstanding organization here,” he said. “The fire fighters are here to work, they are well-trained and they are real professionals. They care about what they do and take great pride in their work. Our number one job is to serve the people of Kingsville and these men and women understand that and are ready, willing and able to do that right now.”

Adame said he is already working with Rick Salinas with the Kingsville Volunteer Fire Department, but wants to get to know the community, his organization and his fire fighters more personally. He wants to review all the training protocols, review performance and improve on what has already been built, but also wants to remind the community of the pervasive threat COVID-19 presents to Kingsville and the department.

“All of our fire fighters are trained EMT’s, and they are on the front line of this pandemic,” Adame said. “There is a reason there are recommendations about maintaining social distance, wearing masks, washing hands and all the other things we need to do. If we follow those recommendations, it will make it easier for our department to serve and will help protect our community against the spread of the virus.”

At the end of the day, Adame said his motto for the department is “One Mission; One Town.”

“What can we do to serve? How can we serve our citizens? That’s the mission and quest of the Kingsville Fire Department,” he said.

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