Austin’s first female fire chief announces retirement

Rhoda Mae Kerr. (City of Austin)
Rhoda Mae Kerr. (City of Austin)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Rhoda Mae Kerr, Austin’s first female fire chief, announced her intention to retire from the department Wednesday. Her last day on the job is July 1.

“Words cannot begin to describe how much I have enjoyed my time in Austin and in serving as the Fire Chief here,” Kerr said in a release. “It has been one of the most special periods in my life and I will treasure it always. But what I will miss most is the men and women of the Austin Fire Department; they are truly the best in the business.”

Kerr plans to return to Fort Lauderdale, where her firefighting career started 30 years ago, to be the fire chief there.

Kerr became fire chief in February 2009. She helped fund and maintain staffing in the midst of budget cuts, expanded the department’s outreach to provide smoke alarms, developed policies and helped AFD with an Insurance Services Office review that bumped up the city’s rating for fire protection, according to a release.

“We all owe Chief Kerr a huge debt for keeping Austin safe and for being a wonderful and innovative change agent,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said. “We’ll miss her leadership, and I’ll miss working with her. She has been a terrific role model for young women not just here but nationally.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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