Sacramento Fire Captain Richard Alamo didn’t grow up with a stable and secure family.
“So, to me, I feel like the Sacramento Fire Department adopted me,” he said.
Born in East Los Angeles, Alamo was raised by his grandmother. Money was tight, and at times the two experienced homelessness.
“We had to be out on the streets and stay with different friends,” he said.
When he was a teenager, his grandmother passed away. Alamo found himself alone, without a plan or path.
Short of credits to graduate high school, Alamo was referred to a fire technology program that would help him get his diploma.
He started dreaming of a career in the fire service. After high school, he headed to Sierra College, and soon after, he joined the fire academy.
In 1999, at the age of 22, he landed his dream job with the Sacramento Fire Department.
Early in his career, he responded to many traumatic calls, which took a toll on the young firefighter.
“I didn’t know how to deal with that,” he said. “I got to the point where I was consuming 30 beers a day, trying to self-medicate.”
Through the department’s peer support program, Alamo received help. This year, he is celebrating 11 years of sobriety.
Currently assigned to Engine, 7, Alamo also oversees the Sacramento Fire Department’s Health Unit, which provides peer support and mental health services for members.
“Every day I come to work, I am helping our members deal with some of the challenges from this job and off the job, which is very rewarding,” he said.
A dedicated athlete, Alamo this weekend will be competing in IRONMAN California in Sacramento. He previously has completed 10 IRONMAN triathlons and currently is working toward his goal of competing in Hawaii.
Watch Alamo’s story here, as part of the Sacramento Fire Department’s ongoing “I am Sacramento Fire” video series: