Tammy Snow, a Deputy Chief of the Wichita Fire Department, will serve as interim head of the department following the retirement of Fire Chief Ronald D. Blackwell, City Manager Robert Layton announced on Tuesday.
"Deputy Chief Snow's leadership skills and professional knowledge will guide the department during this interim period," Layton said.
Snow began working for the WFD in 1988. She served as a Firefighter, Lieutenant, Captain, and Battalion Chief before being appointed a Division Chief in 2011. She currently directs the WFD Operations Division. She has a bachelor of arts and a master's in education from Wichita State University.
"I am ecstatic to serve the community and Fire Department as its interim Fire Chief," Snow said. "I look forward to ensuring firefighters are trained and prepared for a variety of situations, to continue to enhance their skills, and to provide the highest level of service. It is not only an honor but a true privilege to be a leader and public servant of one of the best fire services in the nation."
Snow will assume her new role after Blackwell retires on Friday. Blackwell served the department for more than 20 years, starting as a Firefighter in 1975 and becoming Deputy Fire Chief in 1989. He served as Interim Executive Director of the International Association of Arson Investigators; Fire Chief of Prince George's County; and Fire Chief of Anne Arundel County in Maryland. In 2007, Blackwell returned to Wichita to become its 13th Fire Chief and, notably, its first African-American Fire Chief. During Blackwell's tenure, the WFD received national recognition for its excellence and professionalism. Wichita residents have also recognized the department for its excellence, consistently giving it high marks in surveys of City services.
"Chief Blackwell's dedication to professional and ethical public service set an example for his staff and WFD stakeholders," Layton said. "His leadership will be missed."
Layton said he will conduct a national search for Blackwell's successor.