Burbank Fire Department’s Fire Chief Eric Garcia announced this week his intention to retire on Thursday, Aug. 31.
His departure marks the culmination of a remarkable 30-year-long tenure within the fire service, during which his leadership was instrumental in elevating the Burbank Fire Department to an internationally recognized standard, said city officials in a statement.
“It has been an honor to serve Burbank and its citizens in this noble profession,” Garcia said. “My affection for this community is profound, and I eagerly anticipate its continuous growth and prosperity in the coming years.”
During his decades-long career with BFD, Garcia has held every rank within the department, ascending to the position of fire chief in December 2017. Having served as a chief officer since 2012, Garcia is also a certified state of California chief officer, holding both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in organizational leadership from Brandman University.
“I have been a lifelong athlete/coach and for me, team is the only way to operate. I have carried this philosophy through each of the ranks I have held and as a result, I have been blessed to establish tremendous bonds in each of my assignments and collectively we have overachieved in the delivery of our service,” Garcia told the Leader.
When asked about what his future will bring, the chief said that rest, family and football are on the mind post-retirement.
“It has not quite sunk in just yet,” Garcia said. “However, I do plan to catch up on some rest and spend time with my family. I don’t plan to sit idle for very long, and with the football season underway, I look forward to being able to make practice everyday now. Coaching football is a passion of mine and this will be my 20th season and 14th at the high school level.”
The department has recently brought on about a dozen new firefighter recruits as part of one of the departments largest hiring pushes. The chief imparted some final words of wisdom to BFD’s newest team members.
“My message to our newest firefighters and department staff is to never be satisfied. Always find a way to get better, be a lifelong learner and student of our craft. It is each of our responsibility to pay it forward, and leave it better for the next generation of firefighters,” Garcia said.
After 30 years of service to Burbank, Garcia reflected on the Burbank community.
“Burbank is my home away from home. I love this community and our fire family. It has been a privilege serving, and doing all that I can to live into our shared values to make our department and city better,” he said.
Appointed by the city manager, the fire chief plays a vital role in leading the fire department as well as serving on the city’s executive team.
“Chief Garcia’s leadership has been an immense asset to our Burbank community,” said City Manager Justin Hess. “His unwavering dedication and innovative tactics have been fundamental in re-securing both a Class 1 rating for the Burbank Fire Department and its status as an internationally accredited agency. These achievements designate our department as part of an exceptional elite.”
Garcia’s professional affiliations include the California Fire Chiefs Association, Los Angeles Area Fire Chiefs Association and Foothill/Area C Fire Chiefs Association. Garcia has been on the LAAFCA executive board since 2019 and was the 2021 LAAFCA president.
“We express our heartfelt gratitude for Chief Garcia’s years of relentless service and commendable accomplishments,” Hess said.
First published in the July 29 print issue of the Burbank Leader.