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Gretchen Hoffman

GLENDALE -- Glendale Fire Chief Chris Gray never had any trouble

figuring out what he wanted to do with his life.

At 3, he decided he was going to be a firefighter. He grew up


celebrating his birthday, which often fell on Fire Service Day, at fire

stations, and he guesses he blew out the candles on about a dozen

engine-shaped cakes.

His goals as fire chief, however, are anything but childish. Gray, who


took over as fire chief Dec. 30, will be pinned during an open house from

4 to 6 p.m. today at Fire Station 21, 421 Oak St.

Gray, who served as assistant chief for 10 years, doesn’t take his new

position lightly.

“Now more than ever, I feel responsibility for all of the

firefighters,” he said. “I’m here to make sure that they all go home

safe, and I take that very seriously.”

Although Gray estimates that less than half of Glendale residents have


had to make a 911 call, a quick response to each call can be the

difference between life and death, he said.

“We only get one chance, generally, to do the job,” Gray said. “It

could mean our own lives; it could mean someone else’s life.”

Because the number of fires has decreased over the past few years, it

can be difficult to judge how well the Fire Department is responding to

Glendale’s needs.

One of his top goals is to take stock of what the community wants and


increase the department’s involvement in the neighborhoods.

Another top priority is to improve the department’s ability to respond

-- through such things as additional equipment and a medical surplus, to

major disasters or threats.

“We’re here because of the people in the community,” Gray said. “I

still consider myself a firefighter. I’m just on a different assignment.”