Community mourns the loss of South Placer Fire board member

Giblin was retired firefighter, tireless volunteer
By: Scott Thomas Anderson, Editor
-A +A

Two huge American flags waved high from the tops of fire ladders Sunday as more than 350 residents of the Granite Bay area turned out to pay their respects to Dave Giblin, a man who dedicated 45 years of his life to public safety.

Giblin was known as a straight-talking, forceful personality who understood how to get results in the most difficult of circumstances. He graduated from San Juan High School in 1963 and went to work as a firefighter for the Citrus Heights Fire District. He took a five-year break from running into burning buildings when he joined the Navy to serve on the U.S.S. Bennington.

Giblin returned to being a Citrus Heights firefighter in 1971, ultimately settling in at the South Placer Fire Protection District for the rest of his career. He worked his way up to the rank of Assistant Fire Chief and then retired in 1997. Several years later he was elected to the Board of Directors of the South Placer Fire Protection District. He served on the board right up until the moment of his death on Nov. 22. Giblin died from a long bout with cancer. He was 67. His funeral service, held Dec. 9 at the Lake Notama Inn in Folsom, saw a huge turnout to support his wife, Lisa, three children and six grandchildren.

“Dave did more for South Placer Fire Protection District than probably anyone else,” said Craig Powell, the current president of the board. “His ability to get things done came from his background of being a 35-year firefighter and having a decade of experience on the board. Basically, his whole life was about public service.”

South Placer Fire Chief Lawrence Bettencourt worked closely with Giblin on numerous challenges confronting his department in recent years. He sees Giblin as a man who was absolutely dedicated to giving firefighters the best possible chance to save lives and property.

“I think Dave’s main contribution, from the time he started to the day he passed away, was always putting what was best for the community ahead of what’s best for individuals,” Bettencourt said. “When the economic problems started, he directed staff to make things work without closing any stations and pulling back service for people. He held firm on it — he was going to find a way to make it happen no matter what, and we never ended up closing a station.”

Giblin was widely known for being unshakeable in high pressure situations. Tony Corado saw that first hand, first working for Giblin as a firefighter and then working for him again when Corado was fire chief and Giblin was a board member.

“He was my boss for 35 years, and I can tell you he was an amazing man,” Corado said. “He was old school — pretty hardcore. He did things his way and always got the job done, exceeding everyone’s expectations. And when he took a stand on an issue, no one could make him change that stand or back down.” 

Corado added, “He didn’t worry about politics or what people thought of him, he just cared about the mission, which is a kind of person that’s harder and harder to find these days.”