BEND, OR -- It's a first - Bend Fire has a new Battalion Fire Chief, and she's a woman. Patricia Connolly has been part of the Bend Fire Department for 19 years. "I was hired as a firefighter in 2000 and I've been promoted up the ranks. My last held position was as Captain. And before I worked for the Fire Department, I was a wildland firefighter for 5 years, so I've really kind of grown up in this industry."
Battalion Fire Chief Dave Howe says the Fire Department is doing a lot of promoting from within, as they move deserving people up the ladder. "So, we have quite a bit of movement going on in our department right now. It's really, really healthy for an organization to have this kind of movement, and we have the depth to do it, pretty seamlessly."
One of the biggest changes coming to Bend Fire is the retirement of longtime chief, Larry Langston - for the second time, and his job will be filled by new Chief, Todd Riley.
Connolly says the changes are good ones, and she's happy to be on the ground floor. "I love being a female in our industry, and I think it's really important that we have more women become firefighters, so I love talking to females about the fire service and becoming a firefighter." She says it's an exciting time at the department, because a lot of change is happening. "We have some big changes that are going to happen with our leadership team, and all positive, and we really have some talented people coming up through the ranks, so our city is in good hands, for sure."
A Promotion Celebration is planned in the next few weeks.