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City appoints new fire chief

January 25, 2006|By By Mark R. Madler

DOWNTOWN BURBANK -- Interim Fire Chief Tracy Pansini was named Monday as the city's new fire chief, giving the department its first permanent leader in more than a year.

Pansini was excited about the new job, adding that his time as interim chief will help him deal with its challenges.

"I'm glad I had the chance to do the job the past eight months," Pansini said. "It gave me a good example of what the position entails."

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Pansini, a 26-year veteran of the department, supervised the response to wildfires in the Verdugo Mountains above the city, which burned 1,100 acres of brush in late September and early October.

"It's rare to see an interim chief in action in an emergency," Assistant City Manager Mike Flad said. "He handled it as well as a seasoned chief would have handled it."

City Manager Mary Alvord appointed Pansini as chief.

The department has been without an official chief since the July 2004 retirement of Mike Davis.

Rick Mehling, a retired battalion chief, was brought back as interim chief, a position he held until May. Pansini, the assistant fire chief, was appointed to replace Mehling as the city continued with the search for a permanent chief.

The city conducted a nationwide search for candidates, with applicants coming from as far away as Hawaii and the Midwest, Flad said, adding that only Pansini and one other candidate were interviewed.

Pansini was the only internal candidate to apply for the position, Flad said.

Issues facing Pansini in the coming months are continuing budgetary restraints, staffing issues and a re-evaluation of services the department provides.

Before becoming interim chief, Pansini said his eyes were opened to new perspectives on the delivery of fire services. Now, he has the understanding of how others -- residents, politicians, department heads -- see the delivery of such services, he said.

As chief, Pansini said he would stress more involvement with the community.

"Our culture says we are the city of Burbank Fire Department; I hope we can be a neighborhood fire department," Pansini said. "We have six fire stations and I would like to see those as neighborhood fire stations that are part of the community."

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