Phoenix Picks Woman as Interim Chief

For the first time in Phoenix history, a woman will lead the city’s Fire Department.

Kara Kalkbrenner, a 30-year veteran of the department, will be taking the reigns for Chief Bob Khan who is leaving Feb. 28.

Kalkbrenner has been the second in command since July. Previous assignments include engineer, captain, division chief and deputy chief, The Arizona Republic reported.

The native Phoenix resident, who started as a volunteer, will be the interim chief while a nationwide search is conducted.

“In each position I’ve held, I’ve remembered my humble roots, which is working on a firetruck and serving the great citizens of Phoenix,” Kalkbrenner said at the news conference. “As I’ve (been) promoted up through the ranks, I’ve dedicated my work to ensuring that all of the members of the Phoenix Fire Department have the resources that they need to serve and protect the community.”

As Khan’s second-in-command, Kalkbrenner oversaw the department’s $300M  budget and served “as liaison to City Hall and the city’s law department.” She also managed the Fire Emergency Transportation Services, which performs billing and collections for all Phoenix city ambulance transports.

Khan, who spoke to the newspaper just before Zuercher’s announcement, discussed the biggest challenges facing the next fire chief.

“I think we need more training,” Khan said. “We need some more fire stations, especially as we start to see subdivisions come back to life. We need some new apparatus. The fleet is getting old. We’ve got some stations that are deteriorating; we need to get them restored. (These are) things that kind of went by the wayside through the recession.”