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New female acting fire chief is Phoenix’s first

PHOENIX — The city of Phoenix made history Thursday after naming a woman to take over as acting chief of its fire department.

Kara Kalkbrenner was named the city’s first female acting fire chief.

Kalkbrenner first joined the department in 1985 and has risen through the ranks. In her previous position as Executive Assistant Chief of Administration, she oversaw the department’s $300 million budget and acted as a liaison to both city and educational officials.

Her husband, Kevin, is an assistant fire chief with the city of Phoenix.

Former Phoenix Fire Chief Bob Khan confirmed he would be retiring effective Feb. 28 on Wednesday. He said he was leaving the department to care for his elderly father.

“My dad has Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and has been asking me to retire,” he told KTAR.

Khan said he was essentially serving as a part-time chief because of his concern over his father.

“The care and comfort that I’ve been trying to give to my dad is emotionally draining, to be blunt,” he said. “I was half here. I have been half here for a couple of months. I don’t think it’s fair to the city to be half of a fire chief. I don’t think it’s right to keep a job when I am not able to completely devote myself. That would be against everything I’ve done for over three decades.”

KTAR’s Bob McClay contributed to this story.