Regarding the release of the Wichita Fire Department’s union vote on Monday, Wichita Fire Chief Ronald D. Blackwell was unable to attend City Manager Robert Layton’s afternoon news conference because he was attending an International Association of Fire Chiefs conference. Blackwell issued the following statement:
“The recent vote by the firefighter’s union is disappointing but it’s also an opportunity for the WFD union and leadership team to focus our efforts and continue working together to provide effective fire services for our residents. I remain honored that, since 2007, I have had the opportunity to help lead some of the best firefighters in the world and I remain committed to doing the best job I can every day.”
Blackwell began his stint as WFD Fire Chief in October 2007. Before then, he served in several other fire profession leadership roles including as Interim Executive Director of the International Association of Arson Investigators in Crofton, Maryland (2006); Fire Chief in Anne Arundel County (Millersville, Maryland) from August 2004 to December 2006; and Fire Chief in Prince George’s County (Largo, Maryland) from September 2001 to August 2004.
A Wichita State University graduate, Blackwell began his career as a City of Wichita firefighter, serving from December 1975 through June 1999. During his career, he has volunteered for several civic and community organizations, earning the Devore Foundation’s Excellence in Public Service Award in 1999.
As Wichita Fire Chief, Blackwell oversees 438 WFD staffers and manages a $40 million annual budget. WFD serves 366,000 residents. For more information about Chief Blackwell, the WFD annual budget and a rebroadcast of today’s announcement, please go to www.wichita.gov and click on Fire Department. News conference rebroadcasts will soon be available on Cable Channel, City7.