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Posted on Sat, Mar 6, 2010 : 6:39 p.m.

Ann Arbor selects Dominick Lanza as new fire chief

By John Garcia

The city of Ann Arbor has selected Dominick Lanza of Florida as its new fire chief, City Council member Stephen Rapundalo, D-2nd Ward, said today.

Lanza is a retired assistant chief for the Broward Sheriff's Fire Rescue in Broward County, Fla. He worked for that department for 33 years before retiring in October 2007.

“He’s been in the firefighting ranks for about three decades," Rapundalo said. "He’s got a lot of experience. we were looking for breadth and someone who was a leader who could assess some changes if necessary and a strong manager.”

Rapundalo said the announcement will be made soon unless something unexpected comes up.

“The intent was to bring somebody on board as soon as they could so they could be instrumental in the budget process. We have to have a budget approved by the end of May and it goes into affect July 1. There could be some changes made to the Fire Department so it’s imperative to have a fire chief in place,” Rapundalo said.

The city has told the firefighters' union it is considering laying off 19 people in July and eliminating another vacant position to help deal with a budget shortfall. Earlier this year the firefighters' union accepted pay cuts to avoid the layoff of 13 firefighters. The city also plans to eliminate 17 jobs in the police department.

Former Fire Chief Samuel Hopkins retired last year.

Rapundalo said Dominick Lanza was chosen because of his management skills and his ability to interact with administration and rank and file firefighters.

“We were looking for someone who had experience with fiscal challenges. Someone who could assess the organization and determine what kind of changes could be made without compromising services and response time,” Rapundalo said.

Because it's not official yet, not all city officials had heard the news Saturday.

“Nobody told me,” council member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, said.

Briere said that because she works during the day she was unable to attend the interviews for prospective candidates.

“I think it’s good news if it true,” she said.

Lanza posted the following message on his Facebook page Friday: "I am happy to say I have been selected as the new Fire Chief for the City of Ann Arbor Michigan a great department that is over 120 years old and a group of dedicated men and women I will be honored to be their Chief."

John Garcia is a freelance writer for



Wed, Mar 10, 2010 : 8:54 p.m.

Interesting, you sure made a case for nepotism being pervasive. Seems there was a previous post touting how only 4 out 600 applicants got hired and I joked "were they related?". I guess they were. You just convinced me with the rest of your arguement that this person is the worst person for the job of bringing the union in line with economic reality.


Tue, Mar 9, 2010 : 8:05 a.m.

AAFD Did have a good leader. They had someone that the CITY really wanted here. He had great ideas and wanted to see the department do some pretty good things. If you recall, he left. He had enough of dealing with the city management and found that all they did was tie his hands behind his back. When he realized the city didn't want any change and only to cut, he said he had enough and left. Hopefully the city learned something from the departure of a chief that they fought to get here.


Tue, Mar 9, 2010 : 7:33 a.m.

I just hope he is a leader. In these tough times AAFD needs a leader and advocate.


Tue, Mar 9, 2010 : 5:46 a.m.

After reading these comments, the true ignorance of this city is shown. No one knows how the interview process works, nor how many applicants were screened, but you make negative comments on a man who hasn't even started yet and you haven't heard anything from. But I'm sure the negative comments are all from well educated fire professionals that know how the FD works and are pulling from their own vast experience. Ignorance has truly been shown...


Tue, Mar 9, 2010 : 12:35 a.m.

It is amazing how people today judge people before they know them. Maybe those people should look at themselves. Let's see 18 years as a Union President. Do you think that a Union President with that tenure makes it to his former position without his peers and bosses knowing his character and abilities? Let's see he was a Assistant Chief of a 600 man department. Do you think he may have something to offer? He has been in the Fire Service longer then most have been alive. Did you ever think he may be just what you all need? Tough times are all over this nation, it seems that some people who are employees in AA need to work to make their department the best it can be, not tear their own department down by their comments. Let's see retired in 2007 from a job you spent 33 years doing in the same place. Do you think that shows dedication? Did you ever think maybe due to retirement guidelines he had no choice to retire? Let's see double dipping who cares. Did you ever think maybe he did not take the retirement benefits? Who cares what he makes if he get's the job done. Did you ever think he has heritage and pride and the strong belief of what a firefighter is and does? Do you know his background,education,and life experience? Let's talk heritage his dad was a Fire Chief, he was a Assistant Fire Chief and now the Chief in Ann Arbor a department with 120 years of heritage. His oldest son is a Battalion Chief. His youngest son is a Lieutenant. His nephew is a firefighter and his wife is a retired Battalion Chief. Do you think he has some heritage? Do you really think he needs to work? Bet he is taking the job to take Ann Arbor to the next level and will work hard if you let him and help him. Did you ever think he loves the job that much? Let's see the fire service is a team effort. There is no I in team. Does anyone like change? (NO) May be you need to swallow your pride, stop making crazy comments about someone you do not know from adam and put your efforts toward your pride, heritage, department, and saving the level of service that the citizens deserve. Chief Lanza is deticated,as you will find out how much, because I have over many years.Congrats Chief Lanza God Bless, be safe, and EVERYONE GOES HOME.


Tue, Mar 9, 2010 : 12:01 a.m.

Hiring someone old school for a new economically strapped era? What are they thinking? Yeah, that's going to work out great.

The Picker

Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 8:22 p.m.

President of his local. Oh boy! I'm sure he has the citizens, well being in mind. He and the bride must already be knocking down a quarter mil. per year, feeding at the trough. Let someone else make a buck!

Hazmat Specialist

Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 8:10 p.m.

I have know Dominick for over 30 years, he is one of the most dedicated forward thinking men I have ever known. Some of the previous comments I read were very narrow minded and negative. Dominick as I have know him has a desire to succeed and help. He is a selfless individual dedicated to the very best. Ann arbor is very fortunate to have him as their Fire Chief, he will make the department better in every way. I am proud to know him and call him a friend,college and mentor. I can only hope that the few vocal critics wait and see for themselves what we at a 600 person fire agency know. He is a man of vast integrity, drive and knowledge. Good luck Dominick. God's Speed, God Bless you and Ann Arbor, Good Luck my friend.

Dominick Lanza

Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 6:05 p.m.

I think the negative comments are premature we need a breath of fresh air to bring change and keep us protected. Do you think someone would take this job just for a paycheck? Not if they have been following our budget woes and know they may have to layoff firefighters and still provide this service. Maybe this man thinks he has some solutions to our problems lets see what he does when he gets here then make comments pro or con. Our city has been looking for someone for some time there must be a good reason he was selected.

No Answers Just Opinions

Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 4:57 p.m.

For God's sake, give the guy a chance!


Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 4 p.m.

"When you have a monthly guaranteed paycheck for life, do you really think someone will be as dedicated, fearless or awe inspiring when it doesn't matter how well you perform, what can they do fire me? Give him 5 years for another fat pension at the expense of AA. I guess his managerial skills were so great he only made it to assistant FIre Chief after 30 years. I'm impressed. " Perhaps he chooses to be your chief because he wants to make it better. Maybe,just maybe he doesn't need the money. Since we're dissecting your brilliant statement, can you please explain what you meant by "fearless, awe inspiring?" No sir, tis I who am impressed......LOL

Regular Voter

Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 3:44 p.m.

It is not ridiculous for a city that is as badly managed as Ann Arbor to have its citizens assume that its officials have just made another expensive mistake. It is what our city officials have done at every turn for many years. We need to throw this crowd of self servers out and elect public servants.

Fred Posner

Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 2:32 p.m.

Re "only a Assistant Fire Chief after 30 years"... Ann Arbor is much smaller than Broward County, FL. An Assistant Chief there brings a vast amount of experience that one wouldn't achieve here. It's like saying the Assistant Chief of Los Angeles Fire Department didn't amount to anything since they never made it to Chief. It's a ridiculous statement.

John Garcia

Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 2:09 p.m.

BornNRaised, To answer your question, Rapundalo said that although Lanza had been selected it wasn't official and he didn't want to be quoted saying it was official until the announcement had been made. RacerX, I think that Sabra Briere simply meant that she was happy the position has finally been filled.


Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 9:06 a.m.

Florida pension laws require a Florida-employed retiree to wait at least one year before entering into another retirement system. Ironically enough, his wife is also a retired battalion chief from Florida. I see that he was also president of his IAFF local for quite some time before his promotion to an administrative postion and has been applying for Fire Chief positions all over the country. You know, there's always the chance that his only motive is to share 30+ years of experience with your department and city.


Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 1:04 a.m.

If Sabra Briere couldn not attend interviews, how then is it, that she feels it's good news that Dominick Lanza was hired? Is this based on "somebody" being hired? Or has she based this opinion/decision on more concrete information? And, again, based on what? From what she's heard? Good grief.


Sun, Mar 7, 2010 : 8:37 p.m.

Funny how they never mentioned what his salary is going to be? Another double dipper and he'll only hang around till the winter sets in and then take a buy out for some serious cash. I can't believe they have no one within a 100 mile radius that doesn't have the experience or tenacity to be able to interact with the administrators? When you have a monthly guaranteed paycheck for life, do you really think someone will be as dedicated, fearless or awe inspiring when it doesn't matter how well you perform, what can they do fire me? Give him 5 years for another fat pension at the expense of AA. I guess his managerial skills were so great he only made it to assistant FIre Chief after 30 years. I'm impressed.

Dominick Lanza

Sun, Mar 7, 2010 : 6:16 p.m.

I think something unexpected means just what it says why read something into everything. As far as hiring someone who was retired does thirty years of experience get forgotten, does retirment mean not involved in the business? I know the city has been looking for a long time there has to be reasons why he was selected I am sure they want the best maybe thats what we are getting, lets give this guy a chance we need a fresh thinker time will tell.


Sun, Mar 7, 2010 : 2:58 p.m.

I do not understand why the City would hire someone who has not been working for the past 2-3 years (i.e. retired in 2007). This raises a lot of questions for me.

The Picker

Sun, Mar 7, 2010 : 1:15 p.m.

Another double dipper? I thought you said he retired. Wasn't there a deserving young unemployed local available?


Sun, Mar 7, 2010 : 9:52 a.m.

"Rapundalo said the announcement will be made soon unless something unexpected comes up." Can someone explain what this is then?