Ciji Montemayor is tackling her new job the way she confronted a potentially deadly house fire.
Montemayor has hit the ground running since becoming Hood County fire marshal six weeks ago.
“It’s busy,” she said. “I’m enjoying it. I just keep moving forward.”
Montemayor more than moved forward when she and a fellow Tolar volunteer firefighter rushed to a house fire several years ago.
Heavy smoke had trapped an elderly couple in their back bedroom. Montemayor and her partner helped the couple escape through a broken window.
The two firefighters were awarded for their lifesaving heroics.
Montemayor, 34, is the first female Hood County fire marshal. Sheriff Roger Deeds, her former boss, has no qualms about that.
“She’ll take on anything and get it done,” he said. “She has a can-do attitude about everything. She has the respect of all law enforcement and firefighters and EMS too for that matter.”
Deeds, who was Hood County fire marshal before being elected sheriff, met Montemayor when she started volunteering with the Tolar fire department.
He saw her potential.
He later hired her as one of his deputies. “She put herself through the police academy,” he said proudly.
Montemayor earned most distinguished cadet honors in her November 2015 graduating class at Tarrant County College Police Academy.
Montemayor’s confidence can be traced to when she was a young Tolar firefighter. She told Deeds she planned to take over his fire marshal’s job one day.
“He remembered that when I got appointed (fire marshal),” she said.
Montemayor has paid and volunteer firefighter experience. She’s drawn salaries working in the Benbrook, Watauga, Mineral Wells and Somervell County fire departments. She’s been an arson investigator and paramedic.
“She’s excelled in everything she wanted to do,” Deeds said.
As fire marshal Montemayor’s also director of emergency management. She’ll be attending classes to become more familiar with that part of job.
She faces a stern test Nov. 6 when Hood County participates in the biannual Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) drill with the nuclear plant.
“It will be a big learning curve,” Deeds said, “but she’s taking it on without any issue. I’ve always appreciated that in her – her willingness to serve and learn what needs to be done.”
REARED IN TOLAR
Montemayor was reared in Tolar but went to school in Bluff Dale and Stephenville (2003 graduate). She was an all-district soccer player and won horticulture and land management FFA competitions. In the summers she worked for a landscaper.
She still lives in Tolar, with her husband Cliff. She has two stepdaughters who live with their mother in Stephenville.
Montemayor has a younger brother, Jeffrey Vinson, who she calls her “hero.” Vinson and his sister fought fires together as members of the Tolar fire department. He’s now in the Army, stationed at Fort Irwin, California.
He called his sister this week with good news.
“He got promoted to sergeant,” Montemayor beamed. “He’s my hero.”
Her first name, Ciji (pronounced “seegee”), came from a character in the former TV show “Knots Landing.” Her mother liked the name.
Montemayor has an administrative assistant (Kathy Rolf) and several part-time deputy fire marshals. She’s trying to fill two full-time deputy marshal positions.
“Is Hood County is under a burn ban?” is the most asked question of her office, Montemayor said. She pointed out that the answer is always posted on the fire marshal’s website (www.co.hood.tx.us/65/Fire-Marshal) or Facebook page.
Hood County is not under a burn ban, but “it’s getting close” if the area doesn’t get significant rain soon, Montemayor said.
Though Montemayor is familiar to many of the county’s volunteer firefighters, she’s been visiting some of the departments and plans to go to more.
“We have some of the best volunteer firefighters around,” she said. “They’re always there, willing to work. It’s no pay for a lot of work.
“I couldn’t ask for a better group of people.”
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