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Fire chief to stay

Previously interim leader is thanked for stepping up for bigger role in the department.

March 03, 2010|By Christopher Cadelago

DOWNTOWN — Ray Krakowski on Monday became the seventh chief of the Burbank Fire Department, nine months after being named to the interim post.

Krakowski joined the department in 1980 and rose through the ranks from firefighter/paramedic to captain, battalion chief and assistant fire chief.

“There was never a feeling that I had to get the job at all costs,” Krakowski said. “It was really me saying ‘If you don’t like what you see, no hard feelings. I am happy. But if you do like what you see, let me know because I am going to make a hard charge at this.’”

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The 51-year-old had been serving as acting chief since June, when former Chief Tracy Pansini went out on medical leave. Pansini retired last month.

“It’s not that we’ve made a tremendous decision or very difficult decision or looked all over the Earth to find the right person,” said City Manager Mike Flad, presiding over the change-of-command ceremony Monday at Burbank Fire Department Headquarters. “We are just so thankful that Chief Krakowski — and I really like the way that sounds — has stepped up and has made the decision and the sacrifice to serve the citizens of Burbank.”

Finances would likely dominate much of his attention in the first few months, Krakowski said.

“Everybody is looking for heroes out there. But it’s really just about standing up, doing the right thing, and that doesn’t have to be in a uniform,” he said. “It can be in a suit. It can be in a pair of jeans. There’s a lot of people in this economy who are really showing their strengths.”

The ceremony, replete with the pomp and circumstance derived from centuries-old military traditions, featured the department’s official flag alongside Old Glory. Tricia Krakowski, with their three college-aged children looking on from the front row, knelt down to pin the chief’s badge on her husband of more than two decades.

“We want to first of all thank you for allowing your husband to do this,” said Fire Capt. Lew Stone, president of Burbank Firefighters Local 778. “As exciting as this is, the investment you make is nothing compared to the investment in your family.”

The incoming chief will be paid a salary between $157,471 and $191,328 to oversee the 139-member department, Flad said.

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