First published in the July 16 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.
Members of the Glendale Fire Department, fire chiefs from surrounding counties, close friends and family gathered Thursday for an evening of heartfelt send-off speeches to celebrate retiring Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas for his service.
Lanzas is assuming a leadership role in the private sector as chief of operations with M-Fire Technologies, but will remain as Glendale’s interim fire chief until a new chief is named. Lanzas is also Glendale’s deputy city manager, appointed in November 2021.
Lanzas became Glendale’s fire chief in 2018 and has been with the city for four and a half years. Lanzas built a 26-year career as a firefighter prior to his service in Glendale, starting in 1992 when he was hired out of high school as a fire explorer at Grand Terrace Fire Station for CAL FIRE.
Greg Ewing, law enforcement battalion chief with CAL FIRE, has known Lanzas for 31 years, and they met at CAL FIRE, where they began their careers in the fire service.
“A lot of people have paved the path for public service, but Lanzas set the bar high and helped anyone around him be better,” Ewing said. “He led by example, mentored people and inspired them.”
City Manager Rubik Golanian spoke at Lanzas’ ceremony, along with City Council members and Mayor Ardy Kassakhian.
“Over the four years that Lanzas was fire chief — two of which were during the pandemic, which was a crisis that none of us were prepared for — he showed extreme leadership qualities in leading the fire department and collaborated with my office, hospitals and the county health department,” Golanian said.
“Because of his effort, we established a vaccine distribution site. He has personally contributed to the city’s efforts in fighting the virus,” he added.
Golanian highlighted many key moments during Lanzas’ years as Glendale’s fire chief, recounting times when he went above and beyond service.
“Lanzas came up with a plan to personally deliver groceries to seniors in this community during the pandemic. That will be a hallmark of his dedication to this community and his leadership abilities,” he said.
Outside of the pandemic, Golanian said that Lanzas is highly regarded in the fire-service profession and he has been a tremendous help fighting fires across the state, not just in Glendale.
Golanian’s role as city manager is to review potential candidates for Glendale’s new fire chief and make a recommendation to City Council for final consideration and selection. Golanian expects the city to name a new chief within the next few months.
“I want to assure the community that the next fire chief that I am going to recommend to be hired will follow in the same footsteps as Lanzas. They will provide the highest degree of fire service to the community, not only for firefighting, but also forging strong partnerships within the community,” Golanian said.
“Glendale’s next fire chief has big shoes to fill, but I’m optimistic that we will find the right and best person that this community deserves,” he added.
Kassakhian spoke fondly of Lanzas’ time as Glendale’s fire chief and aligned with Golanian’s idea of the next fire chief following in Lanzas’ footsteps.
“In Glendale, specifically, we have to have a fire chief that can fight fires in our hillsides, which are high fire risks, and in downtown and residential areas,” Kassakhian said.
“We need someone who can lead, motivate and recruit the type of people that we want in our fire department, including embracing the spirit [of] diversity that we work toward,” he said about an ideal fire chief for the city.
“One of the things that I appreciated about Lanzas was that he worked with difference agencies. Whether it was with the school district or our community college, he was able to make sure that we were all on-message… We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors,” Kassakhian said.
Lanzas said during the ceremony, “To the Glendale fire department, thank you for the honor of a lifetime to serve as your chief,”
He added, “To the community, thank you for allowing me to come here and be myself and thank you for showing me nothing but love and respect… that has given me all of the energy in the world, to work as hard as I can. I am leaving accomplished, and I know that this city will continue to prosper and do well.”