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Pensacola City Council Approves First Female Fire Chief

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

On a unanimous vote, the Pensacola City Council made history Thursday night, approving the first woman to lead the city’s Fire Department. WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody reports.

Ginny Cranor is a 20-year veteran of the department, and moves up from Battalion Chief.

“There have been other female fire chiefs in [Florida]; there was a female fire chief in Tallahassee that’s retired,” said Cranor. “But it’s a limited number. It’s an average of a little over 50 nationally from what I’ve heard.”

As the city welcomes Cranor as the new Chief, it says goodbye to David Allen. The 30-year veteran of the Fire Service spent the last two years as in that office, after the removal of Chief Matt Schmidt and Deputy Chief Joe Glover amid questionable management practices.

“A couple of years ago, I selected Chief Cranor to be the supervisor on our “C” shift; and she’s done an outstanding job in that role,” said Allen.

Allen says the new chief has had a very positive effect on the Fire Department, by wearing a number of hats.

“She’s been an instructor at many academies, so her influence goes beyond just her crew on duty to those she has trained and later on became firefighters.

Allen was charged with providing Mayor Ashton Hayward a list of candidates to succeed him. Allen concedes he made no specific recommendation.

“I did tell the Mayor that we have five qualified candidates; and he could not go wrong by interviewing and selecting from any of those five battalion chiefs,” said Allen. “He was really pleased that he has a lot of talent in this Fire Department. Ginny was his choice and I support that completely.”

Credit City of Pensacola
Retiring Pensacola Fire Chief David Allen.

As he departs, Allen says he’s humbled by the quality of the new personnel who are joining up, that they ensure a bright future for the Fire Service.

“They’re so much more prepared, have so much more energy,” Allen said. “I thought what I was doing was exciting until you watch them. The do everything faster, better, stronger, smarter.”

Another positive that’s surfaced in Allen’s time at the PFD is the steady decline in the number of fire-related deaths. He points to the technology as a major reason, such as smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors.

And what’s next for David Allen? He was a candidate recently for chief of Escambia County Fire-Rescue – but did not finish in the top three who are under consideration.

Chief Ginny Cranor will oversee the Pensacola Fire Department's 123 firefighters and administrative personnel. Having moved into the career fire service from volunteer service, she says those interested in being a firefighter can either volunteer or can jump in with both feet.

“The city has a Fire Cadet Program; we’ve partnered recently with George Stone [Technical School] to offer an [Emergency Medical Technician] and Fire Academy Program,” Cranor said. “There is [sic] many ways to enter into this service; whether it’s on the medical side of it or the fire side of it, or volunteering and seeing if it’s the right fit for a career.”

More information is available at the Pensacola Fire Department’s website, and that of George Stone Technical Center.