Carol Brown, who made history as Boulder Fire-Rescue’s first female battalion commander, officially stepped down from her longtime post on Wednesday.
Brown’s retirement came exactly 30 years after he entered his career with the City of Boulder. After moving to Boulder from Lakewood, Brown began his training as a firefighter in 1991.
âIt’s a little surreal knowing that more than half of my life has been spent as a firefighter for the city of Boulder,â Brown said. âAt the same time, it’s exciting to have found a career that suits me and in which I have been able to have an impact. “
Brown became a battalion commander in 2012, having previously served as a lieutenant. As a battalion commander, Brown led the day-to-day operations of the line personnel during their standard 48-hour shift and supervised a team of around 30 firefighters. One of his most memorable experiences in the force was responding to the flood that devastated Boulder in September 2013.
âI was on duty when the flooding really started,â she said. âWe spent all night making callsâ¦ but we did a good job. “
At the end of his years of service, Brown said the most remarkable aspect was the people, highlighting the bond that develops from working with the same people for so long. The sentiment was echoed by several of his colleagues.
âShe’s been like a sister to me,â said Jeff Martinez, who joined Boulder Fire-Rescue two years after Brown.
Brown received a warm farewell from his fellow firefighters on Wednesday. To commemorate her three decades in the department, she received a plaque, trophy and retired badge from Fire Chief Michael Calderazzo, who described her departure as “bittersweet.”
Brown gave a heartfelt speech in which she thanked various people, from the firefighters she has led over the years to her friends who have encouraged her to pursue a career in firefighting.
âI am filled with pride and honor every time I put on this uniform,â she told the crowd.
Brown’s retirement reduces the number of female firefighters in the department to just five. Brown said she was aware of the low number and stressed the importance of increasing that number in the area of ââfirefighting.
“There are six times as many women in the Marine Corps as there are in the fire department,” said Brown, a statistic she attributes in part to the traditional culture of the world of the Fight against fires.
Calderazzo agrees that it is essential to increase the number of female firefighters. The department is pursuing the ambitious objective of having 25% of its workforce female by 2030.
Calderazzo recently asked for volunteers to sit on a recruitment and workforce development committee that will focus on diversity issues within the department. In addition to recruiting more women, the committee also wants to work to facilitate the pursuit of firefighter careers for low-income people.
“The committee’s goal is not just to improve diversity, but to ensure that it stays that way over the long term,” Calderazzo said.
Brown’s career with Boulder Fire-Rescue particularly inspired other women in the department. Molly Cropp, who became a firefighter two years ago, acknowledges that her own initial experience with the job is significantly different from Brown’s, a testament to the progress that has been made over time.
âChief Brown and all of the women who have arrived in his time set the stage for what women are in the fire service today,â Cropp said. âThey made it easier for us to be included, not as female firefighters, but simply as firefighters. “