Posted on: December 4, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Kamil Pierwola, COM 101 Student

Steven Patrick Lucio is the type of person to drop everything to help someone he does not know.

Less than 30 days after beginning work as a volunteer firefighter in Texas, he was called to a countywide fire that soon became more intense, spreading to multiple counties. Lucio and his chief got to the station and immediately started the 25-minute journey to the scene. What started off as a small fire in a cow pasture quickly spread and scorched 800 acres, then started to move towards a residential area.

As part of a course themed around empathy, students in Lisa Couch’s COM 101 write profiles allowing readers to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.”

“It was devastating to see what type of destruction a fire could do and seeing picturesque moments of scenery destroyed by a natural element,” Lucio said.

The wind shifted, and Lucio’s apparatus was overwhelmed by heavy smoke.

“I had to open the nozzle to fog in order to get air,” he said.

A plane came over to drop water, and Lucio had to get under the apparatus to escape the gushing force.

“We were surrounded by fire. If that plane didn’t come, we would be dead,” Lucio said.

Lucio almost died saving the lives and property of people he’d never met, and he did this for free, without expecting anything in return.

Lucio, 32, lived in California until he moved to Texas in 2012. He went through many hardships growing up, including forfeiting his childhood after losing his father at a young age, and experiencing homelessness and drug addiction. Now, he helps people without getting paid a single penny.

When Lucio describes himself, he takes a humble approach.

“I am a 32-year-old, non-high school graduate who uses all my power to take care of my wife and family and tries to make ends meet. I don’t look at myself as a hero,” Lucio said.

Lucio’s childhood was normal until he was seven years old. His father was diagnosed with MALT lymphoma of the upper and lower intestines and lost his pancreas, gallbladder and part of his intestines, became diabetic, and became completely disabled.

“I stayed home to take care of my father so didn’t have much of a childhood,” Lucio said.     From there it got worse. His father became more ill, which affected Lucio’s schooling, relationships with friends and girlfriends, and the rest of his family.

But Lucio has only good words about his father, who was always his hero.

I find joy in providing a community service to little Johnny who was choking on pizza crust. When seconds count, volunteer firefighters are a necessity.”

Steven Lucio

In 1996, right before Lucio’s father became sick, he was the leader of Lucio’s Boy Scout troop. Lucio’s father took his troop to the Boy Scouts of America yearly Arrowhead ceremony. When he went to sign the boys in for the event, he was informed that no other leader had shown up.

“You have to take everybody because all the other leaders bailed out,” the event coordinator told Lucio’s father.

Lucio’s father went there expecting to oversee a small group of kids but was tasked to oversee 150 kids. It put a lot of strain on him and showed leadership.

“It makes me strive to be the man I am. There are not too many people that would do that,” Lucio said with a smile.

In 1999, after Lucio’s father got a little better, Lucio and his family moved from Los Angeles to Riverside.

A center there helped people get better after battling alcohol and drug addictions. For Christmas, Lucio and his father loaded three garbage bags with stuffed animals and toys and filled a truck with groceries. They then drove to the center and gave the toys and food to people who needed it.

“I look back on it and think, ‘What the hell made my dad the way he was?’ because you don’t see that from a lot of people,” Lucio said, sniffling.

In 2008, Lucio’s father was diagnosed with stage 3A lung cancer. Lucio had to pick up his father and take him to doctor visits. With all his time dedicated to taking care of his father, Lucio had to drop out of high school. He could not get a job due to time constraints, and he and his family were living on social security income. Lucio’s father fought cancer for four years, during which time Lucio’s mother became afflicted with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and coronary heart failure.

After Lucio’s father passed away in 2012, his sister moved back into his home and started to turn his mother against him.

“They didn’t appreciate what I had done for the last 12 years,” Lucio said.

Lucio decided it was time for a fresh start. In September 2012, he moved to Texas, but he had no plans on what to do once he got there. At the time, he had a six-inch beard and hair down to his shoulders.

Steven Lucio works as a volunteer firefighter in Texas.

“I fit the stereotype of a California boy,” he said with a chuckle.

When Lucio went to get a haircut, he found out the barber was the fire chief of the local volunteer fire department, and he instantly signed up.

Only six months in, Lucio had to step away from the fire department because he was going through a divorce.

“I got to a very low point in life,” Lucio said. “I was doing crystal meth and weed, and still working at fast food places.”

He lost his apartment and had to sleep in his car, but he realizes now that his homelessness was a result of his own choices.

“I did it to myself,” he said. “I chose the wrong path by taking alcohol and drugs. I was paying car payments and everything else went to drug habits.”

Before Lucio was homeless, he would look at people on the streets and think, “Why don’t they just get a job?”

After being homeless, he realized that was wrong: “The people that have never been without will never know what those who have been without have gone through.”

Lucio managed to get clean and got married again. He moved in with his wife to another town, so he decided to join that fire department since his wife’s father was a captain there. He has been with that volunteer fire department ever since.

Lucio is a non-paid volunteer firefighter, like most Texas firefighters. He loves helping people without getting anything in return.

“I find joy in providing a community service to little Johnny who was choking on pizza crust. When seconds count, volunteer firefighters are a necessity because otherwise, you would be waiting 45 minutes for a paid department. I love doing what I do.”