North County division chief checks out

As a captain for North Monterey County Fire, Humberto Arista attacks flames in a major fire in 2005 at Maloney's restaurant in Moss Landing. (File photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

CASTROVILLE — Battalion Chief Humberto Arista, a division chief with North Monterey County Fire, put in his final day Wednesday following 26 years with the district.

“Chief Arista always demonstrated a sense of deep respect for his community, his department and his family,” a 9-1-1 dispatcher read over the radio Wednesday during Arista’s final hours.

“I was totally caught by surprise today when all the firefighters I have worked with over the years showed up at the department for a surprise farewell party,” he said. “That meant a lot to me. It’s been a wild ride. I held it together for most of it but when it came to the county-wide announcement over the radio, that’s when the dagger hit me — I thought at first I was a solid oak, guess I kind of lost it. There are so many memories with this great department, so many wonderful people I have worked with.”

Arista, a Salinas resident, said he worked a total of 30 years in firefighting including a handful of years with Cal Fire and with Salinas Rural.

He described his career in firefighting as “very rewarding.”

“I’m blessed; I’m lucky,” Arista, 52, said.

He now plans to spend more time with his family, dropping kids off at school and taking care of some basic household duties, for starters.

“When it comes down to it, it was just so nice to see how united the troops were for me on my last day,” Arista said. “It’s something I’ll never forget.”

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