“The fire department was actually the first one that came through,” said Capt. Solis. “The fire department offered me a job first and I took it and then I told everybody to take me off their list and I’m actually glad the fire department worked out because it’s really fulfilling, the schedule and the benefits are really something you can’t beat.”
After months of conflicting schedules, Assistant Chief Phil Cervantes took the ceremonial oath of office for his post, to which he was first appointed last summer. Cervantes oversees the fire prevention bureau, which enforces fire and building codes, performs safety inspections, and public education sessions. The assistant fire chief also is in charge of the EMS and fire training bureau, which provides ongoing training and education to the city firefighting force.
Now the top two administrative officials in the Toledo Fire Dept. are Latino, a fact not lost on Capt. Solis. Fire Chief Luis Santiago was named to his current post last summer.
“I have thought about that,” he said. “Obviously, Chief Santiago and Chief Cervantes are really intelligent men. It kind of tells you that times have changed, because in the past, it probably wouldn’t have happened. It makes me proud, you know.”
Capt. Solis recalled that Fire Chief Santiago has pointed out that being a Latino command officer makes him a role model. The newly-appointed fire captain pointed to the soaring Latino high school dropout rate as an opportunity to possible make a difference in the lives of at-risk teens.
Capt. Solis raised a son, now 23, as a single father himself.
“I don’t know whether it’s because they don’t have support at home or role models to keep them from joining the gangs or what,” he admitted. “It’s just disturbing and I guess I’m now in a position to be a role model. I have thought about getting involved in the schools or programs that help young men realize that there’s something more than gangs and that you can do well, but you have to finish school.”
Lt. Solis has remained with the Ohio National Guard since joining the Toledo Fire Dept. He has been called away a number of times for active military duty, deployed to Kosovo in 2003 and 2004, serving a stint in Louisiana a year later in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and doing a tour of duty in Iraq in 2006 and 2007.
“It’s an honor,” said Lt. Solis of his promotion alongside his brother. “He’s the captain, so technically he can order me around.”
Others sworn in during the promotion ceremony include Battalion Chief Rick Syroka, Capt. Mike Armstrong, and Lieutenants Greg Segura, John Scouten, Kim Hood, Tim Treadaway, and Pat Lanahan. Toledo Fire Chief Luis Santiago presided over the ceremony.