MAN ON FIRE

Auto Recycler Passionate To Help



F. John Azevedo, president of Pacific Auto Salvage, Inc., is proud to donate vehicles and space to his Napa Valley community.

PHOTO: FOOT CANDLES PRODUCTIONS

Even firefighters need practice. That's why F. John Azevedo, owner and president of Pacific Auto Salvage, Inc., American Canyon, Calif., sets aside vehicles and space on his property for the fire department and other charities. It's been a tradition for 18 years and it's more vehicles than just a couple. On average, 50 vehicles per year find the end of the road at a charitable function.

Giving back to the community is second nature to Azevedo.

"I've always been that way," he said. "We all need to give back."

Azevedo has an appreciation for the fire department. In 1974, the main building of a local auto recycling facility burned down. At the time, Azevedo dated the owner's daughter.

"The fire department worked really hard to save that building," recalled Azevedo, who at the time was restoring his 1972 Camaro Z28 on the property. "I really respect all that they do."

Azevedo later married the boss' daughter, Shirley, and ultimately ran the auto recycling business. When the fire chief approached him to donate cars for the Fire Explorer program and other training opportunities, he didn't have to hesitate.

"The Explorer program teaches high school kids about becoming firefighters," explained Azevedo. "We get about 50 kids a day for a two-day program. They learn what to do when they arrive at the scene of an accident, and how to help without being injured or setting off the air bags. The [fire department] brings in the Jaws of Life and the Explorers cut a door open or a roof off."

The business dismantles the vehicle before the students arrive. "We'll mostly pull the headlights, taillights and mirrors, which are big sellers," Azevedo said. "We don't take the door glass as they need to break it. We try to keep the cars as complete as possible."

The business also keeps a couple of vehicles on hand for firefighter training. "Every once in awhile, they'll call up and say, 'I just hired a new guy,'" he explained. "They have to get him certified. So we say, 'come on over.'"

The firefighters aren't the only ones who benefit from Azevedo's generosity. He has also helped three of his employees open auto recycling businesses. He donated a car as a prop for a local school play. He provided a mangled wreck as a display to educate about teen drunk-driving.

"It's all John," stated his wife Shirley, who works in administration at the business. "I give him all of the credit."

"One of the body shops asked if I was willing to give parts for a vehicle it donates each year to a needy family," Azevedo remembered. "I did and it has become a tradition. This year, when we got a large, people-mover van, I called [the shop] to let it know."

The Azevedo's sons Willie Azevedo and Robbie Azevedo, grew up watching the training sessions. Willie, now vice president of Pacific Auto Salvage (PacificAutoSalvage.com), 'pinch hits' for his father when the donation requests come in.

"I'm so lucky and blessed," he continued. "I love every minute of what I do. I like helping when I'm asked and when I can."

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