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10 to Watch: Chris Soliz

SALISBURY — Although he hasn’t officially begun his new job as Rowan County’s emergency services chief, Chris Soliz is already thinking about how he’ll maintain the same “good reputation” that the emergency services division has had.

Soliz, 43, was hired after the December retirement of longtime Emergency Services Chief Frank Thomason. He will begin his new role on Feb. 1.

Soliz has 24 years of experience in emergency services and served in the Air Force National Guard for eight years. In the last 17 years, Soliz has worked for the U.S. Department of Defense at a Military Command and Control Installation at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

He has experience in all aspects of emergency services, as a volunteer and career employee, including U.S. Forestry wildfire, structural firefighting, hazardous materials, ambulance service, emergency department, and emergency management work.

One of his biggest professional challenges, Soliz said, is to maintain the good reputation that the emergency services office has already built up.

“Frank Thomason has pretty big shoes to fill. I want to find my place and help everybody there to do great things,” he said.

Soliz most recently has worked as battalion chief for the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, otherwise known as NORAD. He specialized in interagency partnerships, strategic planning and leading all-hazards response efforts.

Some highlights of his work include working simultaneously for the fire department and emergency management branch, serving as manager for the Fire Department’s International Accreditation status, and supervising the Wildfire and EMS services.

Chris Soliz
Age: 43

Hometown: Salisbury

Job: Emergency services chief for Rowan County

Birthplace: Denver, Colorado

Favorite book: He just finished reading “Extreme Ownership” Leadership lessons from Navy SEALs. He also likes mysteries.

Who would play you in a movie: Jimmy Smits

What would you want for your last meal: Steak, “cooked the way I asked for it.”

Biggest challenge for you ahead personally: “Family is very important, but not necessarily a challenge. I want to make sure my family has an easy as time as possible getting to know the place and getting connected. I want to do a good job helping them.”

Biggest hope for 2018: “I’ve been thinking a lot about what would guide me coming into this position. Resiliency. What matters is actions behind them. Community confidence in our ability to help them to prevent or recover from some emergency. And that I can have an impact and really help the community feel really confident in what we are doing for them.”

Who will you be watching in 2018: “I’m a big ‘Star Wars’ fan so watching for more ‘Star Wars.’ One of the most interesting things coming around in the country is the FirstNet communications (nationwide public safety broadband network for first responders). That’s something I’m really interested to watch what direction North Carolina wants to lead us all in and work with everybody in the county to see what direction they want to take it in.”

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