Battalion Chief Ronald Gulli retires from Glendale Fire Department after 35 years of service

When Ronald Gulli joined the Glendale Fire Department in 1980, there was only one high-rise building in the city and only about 6,000 calls for service a year.

Skip ahead 35 years and there's a row of office buildings along Brand Boulevard and nearly 20,000 annual calls to the fire department.

Now, after achieving the rank of battalion chief, Gulli has decided it's time to hang up his uniform and enjoy the next chapter of his life.

"All I ever wanted to be was a firefighter and I've been blessed to live out my dream and lived in service to the city of Glendale under many fire chiefs, council members and city staff," he told the council on Tuesday during his commendation.

Gulli was promoted to fire captain in 1987, meaning he's the head of a fire station and he's led most of them in Glendale throughout his career.

"Your commitment and dedication made a positive impact on the lives of so many residents in the community," said Mayor Ara Najarian.

While major fires that take days and weeks to fight and require help from other cities don't happen very often, they make up most of Gulli's most harrowing memories.

The Northridge earthquake of 1994 and its aftermath was one, and the Station fire of 2009 that burned more than 400,000 acres was another. Locally, the blaze that sticks out the most was the College Hills fire of 1990 when 60 homes were destroyed by flames set by an arsonist.

And if it was a busy fire season, there may be no outside manpower available.

"When you're the only fire that's going on, that's great. You get all the resources," Gulli said. "But when there's several fires throughout the state, you're on your own for a while."

The late 1980s was also when he began working one of the biggest projects of his career. Gulli and another captain worked on the emergency operations center, the hub that would oversee the collaborative efforts between the fire department, Glendale Police Department and the city's Public Works Department during major disasters such as the Northridge quake.

In 2010, Gulli was promoted to battalion chief.

"It's really a shame we're losing [Gulli]. What goes with him is a lot of experience … and when that experience goes out the door, it's going to be hard to get it to come back to that level," said Glendale Fire Chief Greg Fish.

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Arin Mikailian, arin.mikailian@latimes.com

Twitter: @ArinMikailian

Copyright © 2017, Glendale News-Press
A version of this article appeared in print on December 19, 2015, in the Local section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Fire battalion chief decides to turn in uniform - Ronald Gulli retires after serving with Glendale Fire Department since 1980." — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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