Berkeley, California (February 23, 2005) The City of Berkeley is proud to announce the badge pinning of Debra R. Pryor, Fire Chief, on Friday, February 25 at 4:00 p.m. Chief Pryor will be pinned by State Fire Marshal Ruben Grijalva on the steps of the Berkeley City Council Chambers, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley. In December 2004, Debra Pryor became Berkeley Fire Department’s first woman Fire Chief.
Chief Pryor has been a member of the Fire Service for over 19 years. In 1985, a Berkeley fire service recruiter sparked Debra’s interest in the Fire Service while she was working as a clerk for the City. Although not initially her career path, Debra’s extraordinary athletic ability and trained communication skills were quickly honed to earn her the distinction of being the first woman Fire Fighter hired by the Berkeley Fire Department. During the next several years Chief Pryor steadily rose through the promotional ranks.
After completing her probationary period, Ms. Pryor attended Stanford University’s Pre-Hospital Care Program and became a Fire Fighter Paramedic. From there, early career promotions included Apparatus Operator, Lieutenant, and Assistant Fire Marshal. By 1993, Ms. Pryor was promoted to Fire Captain and soon thereafter as the Department Training Officer. In 1996 she was promoted to Assistant Fire Chief and on October 19, 1998, Ms. Pryor was sworn in as Berkeley’s Deputy Fire Chief. Chief Pryor left the Berkeley Fire Department in October 2002 to join the Palo Alto Fire Department, where she initially served as the Fire Marshal, and then as Departmental Operations Chief.
In December 2004, Debra Pryor returned to the Berkeley Fire Department as the City’s first woman Fire Chief. In this capacity, Ms. Pryor now leads an organization of over 140 dedicated women and men who respond to approximately 12,000 calls per year in this diverse community of 102,000. Chief Pryor is one of three women Fire Chiefs in California, the second African American Fire Chief in the country, and one of just 21 women Fire Chiefs nationwide.
Chief Pryor continues her commitment to education, professionalism, and the community. In 2001, Debra received a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from California State University at Hayward. Thereafter, Ms. Pryor served as President of the Alameda County Training Officers Association, and is currently active in the Northern California Chapter of Intergovernmental Management Training Programs. Additionally, Chief Pryor has been a student of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Officer Development Programs in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and is a graduate of the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute at Dillard University.