The Edmond Sun

May 27, 2014

Firefighter plans to wear cowboy hat, blacksmith

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Before he became a firefighter in Edmond 33 years ago, Ryan Lenz was a blacksmith, something easy to imagine with his handlebar mustache.

On Friday, Lenz is retiring. He plans on spending a lot of time on his 25-acre ranch between Edmond and Guthrie, and one of his activities of choice will be wearing a cowboy hat and doing some blacksmithing.

Firefighter Richard Munsey is also retiring this week after 20 years of service with the Edmond Fire Department. In 2012, he was recognized along with others for their work on a structure fire call that involved the rescue of a victim from a second-story window in inclement weather.

Edmond Fire Chief Jake Rhoades had high praise for both men and their service to the community. Rhoades said logging two decades in the fire service, as Munsey did, is a great career. He said Munsey has been an outstanding employee, and his colleagues have relied on his guidance and leadership.

Rhoades said Lenz’ position will be refilled, but what he brought to the agency cannot be replaced. He served as a firefighter, driver, lieutenant, captain, battalion chief and, most recently, as chief deputy.

As chief deputy, Lenz has been responsible for management and coordination of department administration and has overseen fire suppression, training, related laws and regulations and established policies.

“Ryan Lenz has been a true asset to the Fire Department,” Rhoades said, noting his long career illustrates his dedication. “He’ll be missed.”

Lenz said even though he’s been using up vacation time before he retires, he’s been wearing his uniform, and thinking about not wearing it anymore after Friday conjures up many emotions. He thanked the Fire Department, the city and the residents of Edmond for their various forms of support, especially the resources they provide.

“I couldn’t have been treated any better,” Lenz said.

Lenz started working for the Edmond Fire Department back in 1981, when being a firefighter was much different than now.

After a friend was hired by the Tulsa Fire Department, Lenz applied with the Edmond department. He found the schedule attractive. But as the years passed, he developed a deep, abiding fondness for the job, which gave him the ability to serve citizens who many times are experiencing the worst day of their lives.

“It was one of those fateful deals that worked out,” Lenz said.

During his career, Lenz witnessed many fire service changes. They include advances in technology like the development of thermal imaging devices that can help spot fires and firefighters, computer advances on fire trucks, the increase of medical calls and the need for related medical skills.

When he started working in the city, Lenz said, the department did not have a hazmat team or a technical rescue team. Now it has both and better training for members, most of whom have some type of medical certification, Lenz said.

His first structure fire call was at a no-longer-existing apartment complex. Lenz said he forgot a needed tool, which another truck had, and which he got some good-natured ribbing about. But he got to fight a lot of the fire, which was linked to a laundry area, he recalls.

For firefighters entering the service, Lenz urged them to make the most of the career, which can take them many places, and not worry so much about a second job, which scheduling allows. He also urged them to take advantage of all the education and training opportunities.

Lenz earned a Bachelor of Science degree in organizational leadership and an associate degree in municipal fire protection. He also earned many professional fire service certifications. His civic contributions include serving on several city-related committees and on the International Fire Service Training Association Validation Committee.

In addition to blacksmithing on his ranch, Lenz plans to do some fire service teaching. | 341-2121, ext. 108