Posted by Robert Homann
Today's speaker was Mary Cameli, the first female chief of the Mesa Fire Department.  Mary has 35 years of fire department experience.  Her responsibilities include overseeing 500 employees.
She explained how one works their way through system.  New fire-fighting employees have to have graduated from the Fire Academy that provides training in physical fitness, fire fighting and EMT certification.  One starts at the firefighter level.  The next step after experience and demonstrated leadership is to become a truck captain who is in charge of the crew of one truck.  The next step is to become a truck engineer who is responsible for the deployment and use of the firefighting equipment on the truck.  The next level is the battalion chief who is in charge of all the trucks at a fire or medical incident. Finally the top is the department chief who reports to the Mesa City Manager.  The Mesa firefighters are unionized and the department has great relationships with the union.
The local fire departments cross over fire district boundaries to provide fire or medical response if they can get to the incident faster than the in-district trucks.  She mentioned that Mesa Fire went over the boundaries 5,000 times in 2017 and had about an equal number of incoming fire departments such as Superstition Fire and Medical provide services for them.
In response to a question, Mary said that there were 2 female fire fighters in 1983 and there are 20 today. In response to another question about ambulance service, she said that Mesa contracts with an outside vendor for ambulance services but some departments such as Superstition Fire and Medical have their own ambulance service in house.