Meet the Okeechobee County Firefighter: Shannon Gagliardi

OKEECHOBEE – “I was looking forward to being Granny Shanny,” says Okeechobee County firefighter Shannon Gagliardi, “but my granddaughter Sophie is very persistent on calling me MawMaw.” Ms. Gagliardi is the mother of two girls — Taylor, 26, and Maci, 8, and one boy, James, 5. She also has two granddaughters, Sophie who’s 18 months and Lilah, 5 months old. “Seeing my grandkids and my younger kids interact and play with each other is the most interesting thing that has ever happened to me. It makes my heart happy,” she said.

Family is an important part of Ms. Gagliardi’s life, and she credits her mother, Lissa Smith, as being the biggest influence in her life. Her stepfather, Jimbo Smith, worked for Martin County Fire Rescue until he passed away from pancreatic cancer on the day he received his 25-year pin. Ms. Gagliardi said he was the reason she chose to become a firefighter.

Ms. Gagliardi was born in Fort Lauderdale, but she and her parents and sister lived in Indiantown until moving to Okeechobee in 1993. She graduated from South Fork High School in Stuart, and she enjoyed playing softball and volleyball. School was never really her thing, though, and her favorite event during that time was the day she graduated. The main reason she didn’t enjoy school more was the early-morning start times. She attended IRSC and majored in fire science and emergency medical services.

Before becoming a firefighter, Ms. Gagliardi worked as a cosmetologist, but she said she has been a firefighter since 2004, and she really enjoys serving the Okeechobee community residents and visitors. “I appreciate the children that have the biggest smiles on their faces when they come to tour the fire station and sit in the driver seat of the fire truck, or when we drive by and they are signaling to honk the air horn,” she said.

In her spare time, she enjoys saltwater fishing, lobster fishing, crafting and, of course, spending time with her family and her two cats. She said her most unique trait is her sarcastic wit.

Ms. Gagliardi enjoys traveling and feels fortunate to have been able to visit Las Vegas for New Year’s one year. She has visited the Grand Canyon, which she said was beautiful, and has been fishing in the Bahamas and the Tortugas. She enjoyed a visit to New York a few years ago as well.
“I loved them all and look forward to traveling more often,” she said.

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