Were born in Managua, Nicaragua, 41 years old, arrived in the USA at 2 years of age, and is married with two children.
– What are the names of your parents, wife, and children? My parents’ names are Frank Lanzas, Angelica Robelo (both are resting in heaven, likely sipping on a flor de caña with coke) my wife’s name is Kara and my boys are Isaiah age 21 and Jakob age 9.
– Where did you go to school and what did you study? I grew up in Colton, CA. I went to Jr College in Riverside as I attended Riverside Community College and eventually graduated with my Bachelors degree from Anna Maria College in Paxton, MA.
– How and why did you decide to become a firefighter, tell us that story? I have wanted to be a firefighter since I was a little boy. I began my firefighting career on my 14th birthday as a Fire Explorer. I had to wait to turn 14 years old to start. Every single day since the age of 14 I have loved being a firefighter. I was hired as a firefighter at 18 years old starting 2 days before I graduated from high school. I have held every fighting position (rank) up the chain. I was a Firefighter, an Engineer, a Captain, Battalion Chief, Division Chief, Deputy Chief and now Fire Chief.
– What is you purpose in life? My purpose in life is to help people, I am a passionate public servant, I believe strongly in giving back to my community and my country. I am an extremely proud Nicaraguan and am a living example that the American Dream is real. I live it every day. In my position as the Glendale Fire Chief, I have committed my life and my work towards being the best leader I can be. I love the City of Glendale, the people who live, work and visit here and am especially the brave firefighters and employees of the Glendale Fire Department.
– What has been the most dangerous situation you have been in as a firefighter? I have been in hundreds of dangerous situations. Before coming to the City of Glendale, I worked for CALFIRE in the Riverside Unit for 21 years. While there I worked in some of the busiest places within the department. I also served on a CALFIRE Incident Management team. These are the teams called to mitigate the large devastating fires that ravage communities and destroy properties each year. A couple of dangerous situations that stick out in my mind are in 2001-2002 during a heavy rainy winter, I was part of a Swift Water rescue team. We have performed about a dozen rescues over a couple of day period. While assigned as the primary swimmer on a rescue of a man in the Santa Ana river along the east end of Moreno Valley, I talked a victim into swimming down river with me on a Carlson rescue board. After much convincing the victim who didn’t know how to swim agreed to put on a personal flotation vest on and swim with me down river on the board. The victim upon hitting the water began to panic very badly and was taking us both down under water. For the first time in my career, I thought I was going to drown and possibly die. I was able to use enough strength to hold his head and mine above water and swim us to safety down stream where my partners pulled us to safety.
– What is your biggest fear in life? The ocean, I love its power and it’s beauty but am fearful of its vastness seemingly endless depths.
– What do you do in your free time? I spend allot of time in the gym, I try to stay in top physical fitness shape. I also like to play golf and spend time with my family. I read something every day as well. I like to read fire stories and anything related to leadership or the fire service.
– Have you reached your entire goal? If not, what is next? No, not at all. I have many goals to achieve. What’s next for me is to continue to learn and grow as a leader. My ultimate goal is to continue to lead the Glendale Fire Department into the future to be the best Fire Chief and person I can be. I aspire to have be a positive influence to my Department, my partners, the fire service, the Glendale Community, its people and to anyone who looks to me as an example or role model. I will never stop learning, growing as a person, a leader and as a Fire Chief.
– Would you accept an invitation to visit Nicaragua? Absolutely, I have never been back to Nicaragua but follow my Country of birth and its people very closely. I love that I am a Nicaraguan-American and would without question visit Nicaragua.
– What is your favorite Nicaraguan food? I love all Nicaraguan food. My mother was an incredibly good cook. She would make a masterpiece of a meal out of seemingly nothing.
– What recommendations would you give to young people who would like to be a firefighter? Work hard, never quit. Get into a Fire Academy at a local college and go to Paramedic School. I also strongly encourage people to make good decisions and stay away from trouble. We lose allot of people who would likely be great firefighters during the background phase of our hiring process. Drugs, arrests and other poor decisions end up catching up with allot of young people.
Please send a final message that you would give to the Nicaraguan community living in southern California.
I love being a Nicaraguan-American. Every day I live the dream that my parents came to this country for, the American Dream. Never stop chasing your dreams; if I can do it so can you. Part of our responsibilities as American Citizens is to give back to this amazing Country. I have dedicated my life to service, my service happens to be my passion and my love. I love being a Firefighter and love helping people.
Swearing in Ceremony for Glendale Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas