Fire Chief's Arizona Republic Columns

City of Phoenix Public Information Office - News Clippings - March, 2014

The Republic | 

Bravery and selflessness are two things we see too little of today in America. I believe we should salute those qualities when they do surface. That’s why I hope you’ll join me in saluting our City’s recently retired Fire Chief, the very brave and very selfless Bob Khan.

After 32 years with the Phoenix Fire Department, including eight years leading the PFD, Chief Khan retired on February 28th. He did so in order to spend more time with his dad, who is suffering the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. All of us who know Bob applaud his years of service, his humility, and his willingness to place a premium on his family. Our best wishes are with Bob, his wife, his daughters and his father.

So who am I, you ask?

My name is Kara Kalkbrenner and I’ve been a Phoenix fire fighter since 1985. Today, I serve as the Acting Fire Chief for the City of Phoenix. It is both an honor and a privilege to have been asked by Chief Khan and City Manager Ed Zuercher to lead such a nationally recognized and vital public safety force. Just as exciting is knowing that I’m one of only five female Fire Chiefs of large metropolitan fire departments in the country.

My 29 years with the Phoenix Fire Department began as a young firefighter, then a fire engineer, captain, division chief, deputy chief, assistant chief, and executive assistant chief. Since joining the PFD’s leadership team in 2005, I have managed the Regional 9-1-1 Center, Fire Personnel, and Public Information. I also have administered the Fire Department’s budget and served as PFD’s liaison to City Hall. I look forward to continuing Chief Khan’s focus on delivering high quality 9-1-1, fire suppression, technical rescue, emergency medical, and fire prevention services to keep our residents, workers and visitors safe.

Here’s my pledge to you: Every day as you drive through the City of Phoenix, you pass fire stations and fire equipment. I want you to know that each time you see a man or a woman wearing our uniform, you are seeing a public servant who is highly trained and deeply committed to keeping you and your family safe. Our Department’s core mission is to deliver exceptional customer service – and we mean it. We will continue to seek opportunities to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our 9-1-1 responses, while keeping our people safe and doing everything we can to steward the taxpayer dollars you provide to us. I stand committed to staunchly supporting our personnel in every fire station across our city. I’m proud to serve with dedicated professionals who are accountable to you, the citizens of Phoenix, as well as to our city leaders.

I am also thrilled to have the opportunity to talk with you each month to share what it is like to work for the Phoenix Fire Department and to give you some safety tips to help avoid fire and medical emergencies. What’s happening in our world right now?

Daylight Savings Time ends for the rest of the country on Sunday, March 9th. Traditionally, this is a great time to mark your calendars to check your smoke alarms.  Replace the battery and test the alarm.  If you don’t have one, please purchase and install at least one smoke alarm outside the sleeping areas in your home.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that your risk of dying in a house fire is cut in half with a working smoke alarm.

More information about smoke alarms can be found at the Phoenix Fire Department website:

We are the envy of the nation with our glorious spring weather.  This is a great time of year to enjoy our trails and desert preserves. On average 700,000 Phoenix residents make a total of 15 million visits to our mountain preserve each year. When hiking, let someone know where you’re going and when you’re coming home. Stay on the trail, know your limits, wear proper foot gear and sun protective apparel, and bring plenty of water.

More information about hiking safety can be found at the Phoenix Parks and Recreation website:

We are not the only ones enjoying the outdoors this time of year. Honey bees swarm to form new colonies starting in March. There are an estimated 250,000 wild bee colonies in Arizona. Bees will make their home in trees, attics, pipes and even under rocks. If you encounter a bee colony, leave them alone and keep people and pets away. Even non-Africanized honey bees will defend their colony if disturbed.

Bee attacks can kill. If you see a near your home or business, please defer to the professionals: contact a bee keeper or pest-control company to remove the hive. Call 9-1-1 if bees are attacking and someone is in a life-threatening situation.

Check your detectors. Enjoy the weather and the outdoors with safety in mind. And feel free to give me a call with your thoughts and comments. I can be reached at

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you and every Phoenix resident and visitor.



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