NANAIMO — For the first time ever, Nanaimo has a female fire chief.
It was announced Karen Fry was promoted to fire chief on Thursday, Aug. 17.
Since first starting as a dispatcher 18 years ago, Fry told NanaimoNewsNOW she's constantly strived to be the best officer she can be as she moved through the ranks in Nanaimo and also in Surrey for 10 years.
"I've always had that drive and determination to keep seeing how much better I can help assist the community I serve. Coming back to Nanaimo, I think I've landed where I needed to land."
She filled the role following the retirement of Craig Richardson in the spring of 2017. Though she's managed Nanaimo Fire since then, Fry said now she has more opportunities to help bring about change in the department.
"I think any time you're in a temporary position and you're not sure where everything's going to fall, you're a bit more tentative in making decisions or changes that might not align with another potential fire chief if they came into the position," she said. "By all means, I want to see some changes in this organization but I think we've been slowly making a lot of those changes since I came back here a year ago."
Promoting firefighters in the community and engaging in education are two of the biggest tasks Fry said she wants to tackle, including having more smoke detectors in Nanaimo homes.
"It's not just about responding to incidents and inspecting your buidlings. It's about providing a more holistic approach to public safety."
This is the latest time Fry has broken the gender barrier as a firefighter. She said when first promoted to deputy chief of various Nanaimo departments she was the first woman to fill those roles.
After so many years as a female chief, Fry said being a gender minority in the department doesn't influence her decisions but is something she's keenly aware of.
"We're starting to see more women as they progress through the departments and in their careers. There's lots of capable, amazing firefighters out there who have individual strengths that can compliment any department."
Editor's note: Citing the City of Nanaimo press release, this story said Fry was only the second female fire chief in B.C. This is incorrect and the story was edited at 10:10 p.m. Thursday, April 17 to reflect the correct information.
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