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FIREFIGHTER FIRST: Army veteran becomes Austin Fire's first female battalion chief

Austin American-Statesman - 10/2/2017

Oct. 02--An Army veteran who has spent the past 24 years as an Austin firefighter is now the city's first female fire battalion chief, officials announced Monday.

Rebecca Ackerman, who is one of 73 women -- including Austin Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr -- among 1,007 personnel in the Austin Fire Department, was promoted to battalion chief after serving as captain over the communications section.

There, she oversaw the Computer-Aided Dispatch system and helped ensure compatible communication among the region's emergency service districts and other local public safety agencies, the department said.

"The 'family' business in my family is the Austin Fire Department," Ackerman said in a statement from the department. "My dad (Richard 'Sticks' Farris, who served 29 1/2 years and retired in 1997) was an assistant chief at AFD."

She said her uncle, Dennis Farris, just retired as a Lieutenant after 32 years and her brother, Dwayne Farris, is the department's last civilian dispatcher on staff.

"After spending the past two decades gaining the necessary experience, I decided earlier this year that the time was right for me to sit for the Battalion Chief's exam and assessment center," Ackerman said. "I'm beyond excited and thrilled to have achieved this goal."


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