Chief Malenick retires after 32 years service to St. Anthony

St. Anthony Village Fire Chief John Malenick on his last full week on the job. (Joshua Nielsen/Bulletin)

St. Anthony Village’s Fire Chief John Malenick is wrapping up a long and distinguished career with the Village this week, and will be bid farewell with a retirement celebration on Thursday at city hall.

Malenick began his career with St. Anthony Village as a part-time employee at the city’s municipal liquor store, where he was quickly promoted to full-time store manager after completing a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of St. Thomas in 1982.

In 1988, he joined the St. Anthony Fire Department as a part-time firefighter, and one year later he became full-time. In May 2004, Malenick took the helm as fire chief, a leadership position he says he has enjoyed ever since. He added he has always been community-oriented and serving the area’s residents on the fire department was something he was eager to do.

Folks in the Village who have gotten to know Malenick over the years describe him as a person who is wholeheartedly devoted to his profession and to the community.

“He’s very dedicated to this department and city,” SAFD captain Chris Fuller says. “As a rookie I went on one of my first calls with him. He’s always very professional, poised, calm and handles any situation very well.”

St. Anthony Village Council member Jim Roth says he has always been impressed with Malenick’s commitment to his job and concern for the well being of the city’s residents.

“He’s one of those guys that will be there when you need him. It’s the nature of the fire department to be driven to serve and he emulates that,” Roth says.

Newly appointed assistant fire chief Jay Olson has served on the city’s fire department since 1977, and was Malenick’s partner for several years. The two of them even helped deliver a baby once, to a woman who was caught by surprise.

“We’ve gone on quite a few calls together and have had some great times. We were together longer than many marriages,” Olson quips with a laugh. “John was always real friendly, conscientious and a hard worker. It was a pleasure working with him as many years as I did. He’s a great chief and he will be missed.”

Mark Sitarz is a 15-year veteran with SAFD and will be officially taking over as fire chief following Malenick’s retirement later this week. He described the chief as a caring person, which was made evident in his day-to-day dealings with firefighters and others in the city.

“He’s always been a dedicated person, really passionate about fire service, and very committed to the department and the city,” Sitarz says.

Malenick says he has enjoyed the interaction with the city council, police department and Village residents while serving as the head of the department, which has always kept the job fascinating.

“I’ll miss the firefighters most, they have become like family over the years,” he says.

St. Anthony Village’s Police Chief John Ohl says Malenick has always been humble and more concerned with accomplishing a mission than trying to take credit for it.

“He had a really key role in providing the emergency management program for the city as it was quickly evolving,” Ohl says, as an example.

Malenick says one of his proudest  accomplishments was his work on the committee to get the city’s current fire station built on Silver Lake Road. The station, built in 2004, is centrally located and the chief says they can be anywhere in the Village in five minutes. Malenick was there for the groundbreaking and proudly dug the first hole with a shovel.

“The community committee came up with a location that provides good balance for the city. We looked at other fire stations. It was a great process and it worked out pretty well,” Malenick said.

The 55-year-old soon-to-be retired fire chief says he is looking forward to spending more time with his wife Sue and grown sons Jake and Zack. He says he would also be in the Naples, Fla. area more, playing rounds of golf and sailing in the Gulf of Mexico. He has sailed on Lake Superior and admits he has been itching to get out on the ocean.

He aims to stay in touch with the department and residents of St. Anthony that he has gotten to know over the past 32 years.

“That’s what makes a city great is its people. People in St. Anthony are community-minded.  You can see it at VillageFest. We have that small town feel, it’s our claim to fame.”

Chief Malenick’s retirement celebration will take place this Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. in the St. Anthony Council Chambers, 3301 Silver Lake Road, and is open to the public.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at or 651-748-7824.

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