Feb. 9, 2018: Austin, Texas, Fire Chief Rhoda M. Kerr, who was the first woman to lead the Austin Fire Department, announced on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, that she plans to resign soon to be the Fire Chief for the Fort Lauderdale Fire and Rescue Department, where her career started in South Florida thirty years ago. Kerr is scheduled to remain in her Austin post for the next four months, allowing her to complete several projects before taking the Fort Lauderdale post in July, 2018. The Austin Fire Department, which has a budget of about $172 million, has 1,100 firefighters operating from nearly fifty stations. Firefighters answer about 90,000 emergency calls annually, ranging from first aid calls to major blazes. By comparison, Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue has about 500 employees who answer about 54,000 annual calls. Kerr, 69, is one of the most visible women nationally in the firefighting field, an industry that has struggled to recruit and retain women and minorities. In 2015 and 2016, she was the first female President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and in 2017, she was the President of the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association. In 2016, she was appointed by former President Obama to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, advising the federal government on issues regarding the security of critical infrastructure. Kerr joined the Austin Fire Department in February, 2009. Kerr will be able to draw a retirement from the city of Austin. Kerr came to Austin after working as the Fire Chief in Little Rock for five years and spending more than twenty years rising through the ranks to the position of Assistant Fire Chief in Fort Lauderdale.