Phoenix hires its first female fire chief

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
Kara Kalkbrenner has been named Phoenix's new fire chief. By Jennifer Thomas Kara Kalkbrenner has been named Phoenix's new fire chief. By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX (AP) -- Kara Kalkbrenner has become Phoenix's first female fire chief.

The Phoenix native was named the city's new chief on Wednesday after a national search.

Kalkbrenner began her career as a Phoenix firefighter in 1985. She rose through the ranks of fire engineer, fire captain, division chief, deputy chief, assistant chief and executive assistant chief.

She was named acting chief in January after Bob Khan announced that he was retiring to spend more time with his ailing father.

Kalkbrenner joins just two other female fire chiefs in cities with more than 40 fire stations and more than 1,000 members - San Francisco and Austin, Texas.

Phoenix operates 58 fire stations with 1,948 members.

A formal swearing-in ceremony for Kalkbrenner is being planned for early next month.

Councilwoman Thelda Williams' statement:
"I am proud that the city manager has chosen Chief Kara Kalkbrenner, and proud that she is one of only five big-city female fire chiefs in the nation. Chief Kalkbrenner has promoted through the ranks of the Phoenix Fire Department, is a seasoned professional with outstanding experience, and is well positioned to lead the department."

Councilwoman Kate Gallego's statement:

"I extend heartfelt congratulations to Kara Kalkbrenner on her historic appointment as Phoenix's first female fire chief. With her decades of budget and management expertise, she's poised to lead the Phoenix Fire Department with distinction and to carry on the tradition of professionalism, dedication and commitment our firefighters bring to the job every day."

Councilwoman Laura Pastor's statement:
"I am thrilled that Kara Kalkbrenner has been appointed as the Phoenix Fire Chief. She is extremely qualified, has a thorough understanding of the needs of the Phoenix Fire Department, and she has the leadership skills to move the department forward with a strong vision. Chief Kalkbrenner is an inspiration to women who are interested in public safety careers, and her appointment sends a positive message to women as we recruit new talent."

Councilman Daniel Valenzuela's statement:
"I applaud City Manager Ed Zuercher's decision to promote Kara Kalkbrenner to the position of fire chief for the city of Phoenix. Earlier this year Chief Kalkbrenner was appointed to fill the position on an interim basis. 

"I commend the community members who participated in this thorough and transparent hiring process to ensure the right individual was hired to lead the city’s fire department. I also want to congratulate all of the well qualified applicants who sought this position. Chief Kalkbrenner has served the department and the community with integrity, humility, and a strong work ethic in several leadership positions within the department for nearly 30 years.

"Chief Kalkbrenner is the first woman to serve as chief for Phoenix Fire. Additionally, the Phoenix Fire Department is the largest fire department in the country to be led by a female fire chief. The Phoenix Fire Department has a longstanding tradition of providing the public with the highest level of public safety services. Under the leadership of Chief Kalkbrenner, the Phoenix Fire Department will continue to provide the residents of Phoenix with outstanding service."