Elizabeth “Tammy” Snow still thinks of herself as just a firefighter.
But on Wednesday, she was given a new title: deputy fire chief. Snow, the highest-ranking woman in the history of the Wichita Fire Department, had been acting deputy fire chief for the past 11 months.
In announcing Snow’s promotion, Fire Chief Ron Blackwell called her “one of the hardest-working, conscientious and dedicated public safety servants I have ever known.”
Snow started with the department in 1988. As deputy fire chief of emergency operations, she will be responsible for the day-to-day direction of emergency services — including medical emergencies, fires, hazardous materials and rescue team operations.
Her job, Snow said, will be “to uphold and increase the level of service we provide.”
She will face that challenge, she said, “cognizant … of the fiscal restraints” the city is under.
Snow taught at Wichita’s North High for seven years before becoming disenchanted, she said in a story published in The Eagle in 2008.
A friend of hers was a firefighter, and she always found his stories fascinating. She took the physical agility test candidates must pass in order to be eligible “just to see if I could do it,” then was accepted into the academy and hired by the Fire Department.
She has risen through the ranks since then, earning the respect of her peers along the way.
When the local chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters conducted a survey of its membership earlier this year, Snow earned a vote of confidence from 93 percent of those who voted.
“Chief Snow has always had the best interests of the employees at heart throughout her career,” Matt Schulte, president of IAFF Local 135, said when the results of the survey were released in April.