Dedicated to Verdugo Fire Communications Supervisor Manny Soto.

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

The National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week is celebrated in April each year. This day aims to honor all telecommunications staff whose work is involved in a public safety communication. This weeklong event gives recognition and expresses gratitude to all those people dedicated to saving the lives of the people.

In 1994, “National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week” was formally recognized and is celebrated each year during the second full week of April to coincide with the National 9-1-1 Education Month. This is the time to celebrate and thank those who dedicate their lives to serving the public. It is a week that should be set aside so everyone can be made aware of their hard work and dedication. Thank you for all you do!

Though we celebrate and I certainly appreciate all Public Safety Telecommunicators (Dispatchers), this week, I want to honor a very special person who was a communications supervisor for the Verdugo Dispatch Center in Glendale. His name is Manuel (Manny) Soto. Unfortunately, Manny succumbed to complications with Covid – 19 over a month ago.


It wasn’t until I was promoted to Captain until I got to know Manny. Meeting Manny was not like meeting someone new. He was like meeting an old friend. Someone that you haven’t seen in a while. That’s how Manny made you feel – special. When I called him, or he called me, I was always met with an elevated and happy voice of “SammyD!” It made me smile, even after a rough call or bad day.

I worked with Manny on a few projects, but mostly when we got back to the station, and I had to obtain run information during a significant incident. Manny was the consummate professional. Always calm and composed during routine call or large-scale working incidents. When time allowed, we had our “heart to heart” conversations about life, but mostly we had some great laughs. Manny was nothing but a class act and a very dedicated professional. Mostly, he was a kind soul, a big heart and a good friend.

I will never forget on July 26, 2019, Manny sent me this email;

From: Soto, Manuel <>

Sent: Friday, July 26, 2019 7:03 AM

To: Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

Subject: Reference


How are you?  How is everything going?  I recently learned that the new, Verdugo Manager position should be posting in the near future. I believe that with my tenure (29 years), experience, projects, work ethic, and leadership in the comm center that I have the ability to fill this position. Would you be gracious enough to provide me a letter of reference/recommendation for this position, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks Sam!

Manuel Soto ● Fire Communications Shift Supervisor ● City of Glendale ● Fire Department

Verdugo Fire Communications ● 421Oak Street ● Glendale, CA 91204

Why I’ve kept that email, I’ll never really know – I just did. Probably, because it touched me. I really am a “nobody special” compared to many other fire service professionals. Just someone passionate about the fire service. But in Manny’s consistent demeanor, this request made me feel even more special. That’s how Manny was. Always making others feel important. Something we can all learn from.

A couple years back, we had the honor of having Manny’s Son Jonathan come through the Verdugo Fire Academy. Jonathan is with the Pasadena Fire Department. A great recruit with so much talent. A young version of his father.

Manny, I am confident you are “home” with the supreme IC of the universe – Jesus Christ. No doubt he has you working on special projects for us on Earth. Perhaps like you did so well with Verdugo, guiding us safely behind the scenes, not only for those responding to incidents, but for the protection of communities served. Don’t stop Manny, we need you more than ever!