Alex Sandoval of Ahwatukee has been a Phoenix firefighter for more than two decades, having changed career paths after starting in engineering.
He said he made the choice because he wanted his work to be focused on helping others.
Now, a business he has founded does the same.
It was an incident at the start of COVID-19 when the idea for his 911 Sanitizing company took root.
“In March I was running an emergency call at Sky Harbor Airport and saw firsthand how the travel industry was being affected by the COVID-19 virus,” he said.
“I also knew that if traveling was going to be a problem, then every other aspect of our daily lives would also be struggling, trying to prevent contact with COVID-19,” added Sandoval, a city firefighter for 23 years and currently captain on Engine 23.
“I knew that the public had to feel safe and to do that, we had to decontaminate and sanitize everything,” he explained. “As a firefighter, we’ve always dealt with hazardous situations or we are constantly in contact with bacteria or viral situations.
“We must be strict about washing our hands and wiping down our equipment to keep ourselves and the public safe, so starting a sanitizing business was right up my alley,” he said.
Sandoval also felt that he could help provide “that level of security to the public by cleaning their homes, businesses, and any type of transportation that people rely on.”
In the four months that 911 Sanitizing has been operating, Sandoval and his company have helped sanitize homes, retail and restaurant businesses, medical offices and places of worship.
Using the latest in personal equipment and products that are “human, pet and earth safe,” he feels 911 Sanitizing has been instrumental in bringing peace of mind to many.
“As the owner of the company, I want to build the trust of the community and give them a service that’s going to help them, and at an affordable price,” he said. “I feel it is very important to not only use products that work but are also safe to put in their homes and businesses.”
His Nano Extended Barrier lasts 90 days and, like other products he uses, is non-caustic and non-corrosive.
“I’ve always believed it’s important to help each other. I thought this would be a nice way to help out, to get businesses back up and running,” he said, adding 911 Sanitizing will work with the customer and help wherever possible.
“If people need help developing a cleaning process or revising a current one, or have questions on keeping their family, employees or customers safe, we can help. All they have to do is call us.”
When Sandoval or any of his trained technicians enter a home, business or church to decontaminate and sanitize, they’re ready to do some serious work.
All are clad head to bootie in white personal protective equipment and wear a lime green backpack that houses their electrostatic sprayer.
His technicians are trained to operate under guidelines established by the Center for Disease Control for Best Practices for Environmental Cleaning to help disinfect and deep clean for coronavirus and other harmful bacteria using, among other tools, an electrostatic sprayer.
Even with his fledgling business, sometimes Sandoval and 911 Sanitizing provide their services free of charge to individuals or businesses in need.
When he and his wife of 26 years, Lisa, learned of an area family who had all contracted COVID, 911 Sanitizing went to their home and sanitized it free.
After hearing that one of their favorite restaurants, owned by a local family, was finding it hard to re-open after the lock-down ended, 911 Sanitize serviced their building for free.
“This Ahwatukee restaurant was really struggling. They really took a hit, and like every other restaurant their clientele had dropped off. We did this because we wanted people to feel more comfortable coming back knowing they had taken steps to thoroughly clean and sanitize the entire area,” said Sandoval.
And when Mountain Park Church, where Sandoval and his family have attended since 1999, prepped to reopen, there was no question in his mind that he would do what he could to ensure everyone attending the 48,000 square foot, two-story church structure would be safe.
“We went into Mountain Park one month before they reopened. They had pretty much wiped everything down but we went in and sanitized everything from the auditorium to the play center to the prayer room,” he said.
Is giving back a sound practice for a nascent business?
Sandoval doesn’t hesitate when answering. “Yes, this is a business, but one of the things I’d like to do once or twice a month is volunteer my services; go in and help people,” said Sandoval. “I’m pretty fortunate, I have a stable job so if I can be of help, that’s what I want to be able to do.”
Sandoval is a family man and a giving-back kind of guy.
Born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Sandoval moved to Arizona to attend school, then worked as an engineer at Hughes Aircraft and Lockheed. It was then he decided to join the Phoenix Fire Department.
“It was something that just fit me,” he explained. “I liked helping people and the camaraderie of my fellow crew members. It gives me a lot of fulfillment.”
As does his family.
He and wife Lisa – a 16-year Kyrene School District employee currently working in the Exceptional Student Services Department – have two children who were raised in Ahwatukee: Christiana, 24, and Roman, 22.
The couple is also enjoying being grandparents to 17-month-old Arya, their daughter’s child.
An avid cyclist, Sandoval was instrumental in bringing mountain biking as a competitive sport to Desert Vista High School and has served as a volunteer coach with the Thunder mountain bike team for the past eight years. Mike Dale is head coach.
In keeping with his giving back to the community ethic, Sandoval encourages local individuals or businesses who would need 911 Sanitizing to submit their name on their Facebook page where each month, one business or home up to 3,000 square feet will receive a free service.
“I think it’s our responsibility to help out in our community wherever we can,” said Sandoval who credits Mountain Park Pastor Allan Fuller for his encouragement to reach out to others as part of walking the walk.
“His words are inspirational, and the messages he sends out to his members are one of helping your neighbor,” said Sandoval. “Everyone has something to offer and can help in some form or another.”