The San Marino Chamber of Commerce recognized Frank Calistro and Russell Wilcox as its police officer and firefighter of the year, respectively, last week at the organization’s annual Police and Fire Appreciation Luncheon.
This marks the 12th year the Chamber has hosted the event, which honors both the San Marino police and fire departments and also the departments’ chosen individual honorees. Notably, this was Wilcox’s second time in three years he was selected as the fire department’s honoree, having been recognized in the 2017 event. Fire Chief Mario Rueda admitted having “put his finger on the scale” a tad this year thanks to Wilcox stepping up as an acting captain when one of the department’s three captains entered long-term injury leave.
“I have to tell you, Russ jumped in with both feet,” Rueda told the event crowd at the San Marino Center last Thursday. “I wish I had a fourth captain position to give to Russ.”
Police Chief John Incontro touted Calistro’s law school credentials as making him a particularly valuable asset to the department, which puts an emphasis on direct interaction with the community.
“He continually offers great thoughts and great ideas to make this a better community to serve,” Incontro said. “Frank is part of that each and every day.”
Wilcox said the quality of the fire department made his gig as a temporary captain a seamless one.
“It was a lot of fun and a great experience for me,” he said. “The job of being captain for this department is easy because we have the best-trained crew, the best equipment and the support of our city council.”
Following up a comment by Incontro, Calistro acknowledged the support his family gives him in his dedication to the job; the police chief had earlier mentioned how first responders’ family members watch them walk out of the door each day knowing there’s a chance they might not come back.
“My time is often taken away from home so I can be here for the community. I’m grateful to my wife and family for allowing to me to do what I love,” Calistro said.
Wilcox has been with SMFD for his 23-year career as a firefighter and paramedic. He has a bachelor’s degree in management from Azusa Pacific University and an associate’s degree in fire science from Victor Valley College. At SMFD, Wilcox maintains Old Number One, the classic 1923 American LaFrance fire engine most locals have seen in the annual Fourth of July Parade, and also runs the city’s AED program.
Calistro, who attended St. Francis High School in La Cañada Flintridge, earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology and political science before earning his law degree from the Glendale University College of Law. After graduating from the Los Angeles Police Department Police Academy, he joined SMPD in 2017 and currently works the night shift.