Recruits set to replace retiring firefighters

GLENDALE — A wave of retirements at the Fire Department has started, but officials say they have already hired three firefighter recruits to backfill the upcoming vacancies.

The Fire Department staffed up in advance of the retirements and budgeted for three additional positions when a new batch of firefighters was hired, Capt. Stuart Stefani said.

With this week's retirement of Battalion Chief Corey Creasey and Fire Engineer John Deneen, along with three promotions, the Fire Department will no longer have the additional staffing, he said.

Despite being fully staffed, administrators will have to call in additional help to fill vacancies that arise due to illness or vacation time, but those costs were also budgeted, Stefani said.

The new staffing changes won't have much of an impact to the department, he added.

A new position was added when Chief Harold Scoggins promoted Fire Capt. Ron Gulli — a 31-year department veteran — to battalion chief in charge of overseeing the city's Regional Training Facility, Stefani said.

Gulli said his position as the regional training chief is fully funded through a two-year grant that supports the development of the facility. He will also be the department's liaison to the Verdugo Fire Communications Center, overseeing information technology projects and maintenance duties.

Glendale's Regional Training Facility is one of six sites, also known as universities, created for firefighters.

Fire administrators established the training centers in areas that would be easily accessible to firefighters, and that would be able to train on-duty personnel who could still respond to calls rather than doing it on overtime, Gulli said.

"We want to make our training dollars go further," he said.

Along with Gulli's promotion, firefighter Brad Boyle, an eight-year veteran, moved up to fire engineer. Firefighter paramedic James Vancil, a 12-year Glendale fire veteran, was promoted to captain.

The recruit promotions into the opening positions means the transition will be relatively seamless, considering that filling vacancies generally takes months.

Before the newest firefighters were hired, the Fire Department had six vacant sworn positions, and were expecting another six retirements, according to a city report.

At the time, the City Council appropriated $362,000 to run the Glendale Firefighter Recruit Academy.

Scoggins had pressed for the additional firefighters due to the amount of retirements coming down the pike.

The Fire Department last year also created a new unit — the Basic Life Support program — to help firefighters and paramedics with less serious medical calls.

The move also freed up six firefighter positions, which were reassigned to fire stations.

With the department fully staffed, fire administrators are not looking to hire in the near future, Stefani said.

"As of right now, there is no need for it," he said.

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