MURRIETA – After an extensive and competitive recruitment, Murrieta Fire & Rescue has selected Mike Lopez as deputy fire chief, filling the role that has been vacant since July, following Chief Scott Ferguson’s retirement and Chief David Lantzer’s promotion to fire chief. He begins March 2.
Lopez has over 26 years of public service experience. He began his career as a paramedic with Gold Cross Ambulance in El Centro in 1993. He was hired as a firefighter/paramedic for the Calexico Fire Department, where his father was a fire captain and served for 40 years. Lopez went on to join the San Diego Fire-Rescue and Carlsbad fire departments and promoted through the ranks to his current position as division chief with Carlsbad Fire Department.
He has been a chief officer since 2008, serving as a member of Carlsbad Fire’s leadership team and overseeing administrative/support services, emergency medical services, training and fire prevention. Lopez earned an associate degree in fire technology from Miramar Community College, a bachelor’s degree in occupational studies from California State University Long Beach, a master’s degree in public administration from San Diego State University and is a graduate of the Los Angeles Fire Department Leadership Academy and the International Association of Fire Chiefs Fire Service Executive Development Institute program.
Lantzer described the benefits of gaining a deputy with such diverse experience.
“Chief Lopez brings experiences to Murrieta that will help us grow to continue serving the community at the highest level,” Lantzer said. “We’ve identified a tremendous need for a fire training center (there are none in southwest Riverside County), and Mike’s experience with these types of projects in Carlsbad will be a great benefit to our community. Additionally, he brings the values and work ethic that is consistent with the hard-working men and women at Murrieta Fire & Rescue. We are blessed to have him.”
This experience includes serving as honor guard, as a SWAT Medic and a YMCA volunteer. Lopez is also a task force leader for Federal Emergency Management Agency USAR California Task Force 8 and a safety officer for a Type III San Diego All-Risk Urban Area Incident Management Team. Lopez earned awards for meritorious service during the fire-storms in 2003 and 2007 and the Poinsettia Fire in 2014. He led the design and construction of Carlsbad’s state of the art Public Safety Training Center and new Fire Station 3.
Lopez said he looks forward to this next phase in his career.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be joining the Murrieta Fire & Rescue. MFR is a remarkable and progressive place with highly skilled, dedicated professionals who serve a great community. I am excited about this opportunity and look forward to working with the men and women of this agency to continue the long-standing tradition of providing first-rate professional service to the residents of Murrieta,” Lopez said.
In Murrieta, Lopez will oversee the department’s emergency operations programs, as well as administration, training and fleet maintenance.
“Our fire department has set a high standard of excellence and we are thrilled to find an experienced and passionate deputy chief that can hit the ground running in this fast-paced department,” Murrieta City Manager Kim Summers said. “Chief Lopez will bring a robust skill set and tremendous experience to this important role.”
Submitted by Murrieta Fire & Rescue.