New Fire Department Chief Named in Tacoma

“Eileen Lewis, a 19-year veteran of the Tacoma Fire Department, has been named as the department’s new chief effective February 26. Lewis is the first woman in the U.S. to lead a large municipal fire department.Lewis will replace Dick Moore, who announced his retirement in January.We’re always in the public eye because of the kind of work we do, Lewis said. I’d like to see our firefighters get even more involved in the community.City Manager Ray E. Corpuz, Jr., announced the appointment and said Lewis brings all the leadership qualities, experience and rapport with the rank-and-file firefighters that will make her a successful chief. Lewis will earn $112,216 annually as chief.I had excellent internal candidates to consider, Corpuz said. Chief Moore has done a great job of grooming and preparing his assistants for leadership. I watched all of them grow and come up through the ranks of the department over the years.Eileen has the overall qualifications the department needs, Corpuz said. She has held several administrative positions. And when she worked in my office as a special assistant, she demonstrated an eager and aggressive approach to handling all the community and organizational problems we threw at her. She’s the best person for this job.Lewis joined the Tacoma Fire Department on March 17, 1981 as Eileen Hodges. She was the first woman to join the department. Presently, the department has 35 women firefighters and in the mid-1990s ranked in the top five fire departments for the number of women firefighters.Lewis was promoted to lieutenant in 1988 and then became a captain in the operations division in 1993. Later in 1993, Lewis became assistant chief of administrative services and then was promoted to deputy chief of administrative services.On February 2, 1999, Lewis asked for and received a transfer back out in the field fighting fires as a battalion chief. Lewis prepared for and successfully tested to earn the battalion chief’s position.Fighting fires and being close to the personnel is where our work is really done, Lewis said. Since I had been in administration for about six years, being a battalion chief has given me an opportunity to experience what goes on in the field up close and personal and see what issues our firefighters are facing on a day-to-day basis.”