In June, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community said farewell to longtime Emergency Manager Cliff Puckett. One month later, during monsoon season, which is one of the busiest times for the Emergency Management team, Charles “Chuck” Kmet was named the Community’s new emergency manager.
“Cliff built this program to where it was easy for me to come in at a time when the Community was recovering from storm damage and jump in and help,” said Kmet. “I actually sent Cliff a text a couple of days ago and told him thank you for making this so easy for me. The program that he has built and the team that he has, which I have adopted now, are top notch, and the relationships that he has built with all of the [SRPMIC] departments and the executive administration [are outstanding]. [I would describe my transition with] the term ‘hit the ground running.’ I feel that I have not stumbled during this time.”
Kmet started his career in 1992, working as a firefighter/paramedic in Virginia and in Atlanta before moving to Arizona in 2002. In 2003 he started working with the Tohono O’odham Nation as fire captain, and after a year he became the assistant fire chief.
After federal mandates came down with regard to how public entities respond to emergencies, the Tohono O’odham Nation adopted a resolution to create its own emergency management program. Kmet was asked to take the lead on creating the Office of Emergency Management there.
“I was creating the program in the Tohono O’odham Nation when Cliff was here in Salt River creating the Community’s Emergency Management program. It was neat to bounce ideas off each other and see how things were going while we were creating these programs,” said Kmet.