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Lamb named Cape Coral fire chief

By Staff | May 18, 2018

Ryan Lamb can drive around the Cape, look at a place, and tell you what emergency happened there.

It was that kind of knowledge helped Lamb, a Cape Coral Fire Department division chief, the role of fire chief.

Lamb’s appointment by Cape Coral City Manager John Szerlag on Friday is effective as of Saturday.

He replaces Donald Cochran, who retired in December after 26 years of service with the CCFD.

The city had several candidates serve as interim fire chief. Szerlag gave Lamb a 60-day stint, followed by Mike Russell and Robert Topoleski, who indicated he wasn’t interested in the position but agreed to be interim chief so to not give an advantage to the other two candidates.

Lamb’s starting salary will be $133,000.

“I’m humbled and honored to be able to gain this position. It’s a dream come true for me because it’s the organization I started out with,” Lamb said. “I have a lot of institutional knowledge and it’s the place I live and I love.”

Lamb began his career as a volunteer firefighter in Punta Gorda and was hired by the CCFD in 2005. He has served as firefighter, engineer/driver, paramedic field training officer, acting lieutenant and battalion chief.

Lamb was promoted to Fire Division Chief of Professional Standards in 2014 and was responsible for the development of policies, hiring, training, EMS and Special Operations programs within the department.

In 2017, Lamb received the Chief Fire Officer designation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence, which recognizes individuals who demonstrate excellence in experience, education, professional development, professional contributions, association membership, community involvement and technical competence. There are only 1,305 CFOs worldwide.

Lamb holds a master’s in Administration from Barry University and a bachelor’s in Public Safety Administration from St. Petersburg College. He currently is enrolled in the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer program

“Education never stops. I’ve had some great mentors in my career who have pushed me to where I needed to go. I’ve achieved a lot, but there is still a lot more I can achieve,” Lamb said.

“Ryan has proven to be a professional leader and has been an integral part of the Fire Department’s command staff for a number of years,” said Szerlag in a prepared statement. “His management style and communication skills will be assets as the department moves forward.”

Lamb will have much to deal with as he takes over. He will almost immediately be proposing a budget for next fiscal year, as well as oversee the progress made on Fire Station No. 11 on Burnt Store Road, which will be complete by year’s end, and the rebuild of Station No. 2, near City Hall, next year.

Land has also been acquired for stations No. 12 and 13, while the city’s real estate experts are working to find appropriate sites for more stations as the city continues to grow.

Lamb said he will look at best practices on a state and federal level and see how they would work for Cape Coral and make sense for the city.

“My job is to run the most effective and efficient fire department I can with the funding provided. We work with our elected officials to determine what level of risk they want,” Lamb said. “We can put a station on every corner, but that’s not the most effective way to meet those risks.”

Lamb said he is coming in at the right time, with the community growing and the economy back to where it was before the recession hit. He will also use the lessons learned from Hurricane Irma to improve the department further.

“I’ve never been on a perfect incident in my career. There are always things we can do to improve and do better next time,” Lamb said. “Failure is if we have the same mistakes repeated. It only takes one hurricane for it to be a bad year.”