September 15 through October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month! Forty percent of Lancaster City residents identify as Hispanic or Latinx, which is reflected in our staff. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we are celebrating our Hispanic employees and will feature a handful of them on our blog throughout the coming weeks. First up is Israel “Izzy” Velazquez, one of our dedicated firefighters.
Position: My position is 1st driver of Truck 2 at Lancaster City Bureau of Fire.
But no, really, what does that position do? I’m responsible for driving my crew to the scene of all calls we are dispatched to. I have different jobs for different calls. But I’m mainly responsible for the truck and its contents.
How does your job relate to making Lancaster a better, safer, or more equitable community? When I’m needed, that usually means someone is having a bad day and they are always extremely happy to see me arrive. I also make sure that the residents know I am Hispanic so they can see that this is something they can achieve in life.
What are your hobbies outside of your city position? My hobby is mainly working on vintage cars and motorcycles.I have always had an interest in taking things apart and reassembling them.
Where do you like to visit in town (restaurants, bars, parks, etc.)? My wife and I visit downtown a lot, we frequent restaurants and parks. My mom and brother live downtown also.
Do you have siblings? Kids? Pets? The wife and I have five kids collectively, she has three and I have two. My two live in town with their mom. Our youngest kids are 20 years of age (not really kids!).
What was your job before working for the City of Lancaster? Before I became a firefighter, I worked as a tailor for JCPenney at Park City with a lady called Maria Koch, for five years. I came to Lancaster in 1989 from Puerto Rico, but had gone to school in New York for a number of years.
What is one thing you wish people knew about your job/what are the most common misconceptions about your job? People think we sit around all day, but we actually have a pretty busy schedule. We do everything from house chores, to school fire drills, to making complete drawings of buildings in town and where to shut off the water, gas and electric, and who to contact in case of an emergency.
What is your best, “Lancaster Moment?” My favorite Lancaster moment was when I was given the opportunity to take this job that helps me not only take care of my family but also serve the great community of Lancaster City.
What’s your favorite song right now? I’m sorry but I’m stuck in 80’s when it comes to music! My all time favorite song is called “Baby Come To Me,” by Jeffrey Osbourne.
May be edited for length or clarity.