Portland names first female fire chief - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland names first female fire chief

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For the first time in its history, a woman has been named the chief of Portland Fire and Rescue.

Commissioner Randy Leonard named Erin Janssens, the city's current fire marshal, to the post Wednesday.

Janssens, a 24-year veteran of the bureau, will replace Chief John Klum when he retires in June.

She downplayed the significance of her gender.

"It's truly an honor for anybody to have this assignment, this position, this opportunity to lead our organization. I guess I don't really think about it that way," said Janssens. "I just think of it more as always in whatever assignment I've had of trying to be involved and engaged and doing the right thing for the community and doing the best to serve the community. I feel the same about my opportunity now as fire chief."

Janssens became interested in a firefighting career in community college.  While discussing their futures with a friend, she urged him to consider the profession.

"He kind of looked and me and said, 'If you think it's so great, why don't you do it?'" Janssens recalled. "When he said that it really hit me, ‘Wow, I guess that would be really great.' But I didn't know women could really be firefighters at the time."

Janssens first became a volunteer firefighter in Boring before joining Portland Fire and Rescue in 1988.

At the time, she was one of three women who completed their probation year with the bureau.  There are now 48 female firefighters in the bureau, she said.

Over the years, Janssens was promoted to lieutenant, captain, battalion chief, deputy chief of special operations and is currently serving as Portland's first female fire marshal.

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