Jennifer Aubert-Utz joined the Baltimore County Fire Department nearly 17 years ago as a firefighter/EMT. Since then, she has blazed a trail while climbing the ranks of the department. Recently, Aubert-Utz broke new ground by earning a promotion to become the department’s first-ever assistant fire chief.
Fire Chief John Hohman announced Aubert-Utz’s new position yesterday. “She has earned the respect of our personnel with her vision and skills, and it is not so remarkable that she is a woman, but that she is so talented,” Hohman said in a statement, also calling her a “role model and leader for both men and women.”
Aubert-Utz most recently served as commander of the Baltimore County Fire-Rescue Academy, where the department trains all of its firefighters and first responders. She was previously promoted to chief of her division in late 2015. Aubert-Utz has the education and credentials to fit her new role as second-in-command, having earned a master’s degree in management from Johns Hopkins University in 2012 and an Executive Fire Officer designation from the National Fire Academy, which takes four years to complete, according to Fire Engineering magazine.
Speaking by phone today, Aubert-Utz said “it’s actually very flattering to be named as the first female assistant chief in Baltimore County. It’s an exciting time for us here and it’s an exciting time for me personally.”
Aubert-Utz noted that when she first began working for the fire department, her division chief was Danelle England-Dansicker, the first-ever female firefighter in Baltimore County. Up until Aubert-Utz’s appointment as assistant fire chief, her former supervisor had held the highest rank of any woman in the fire department. She has since passed away, but Aubert-Autz said she keeps in touch with England-Dansicker’s family.
“Having worked for her…it puts it all in perspective, the conversation she and I had when I was new about working hard, establishing yourself and being consistent,” she said.
She will be one of three assistant fire chiefs below Hohman. As he noted in his announcement, the proportion of female sworn members of the Baltimore County Fire Department — 20 percent — is much higher than the national average of three percent.
Given that unfortunate national standard and other recent appointments, the Baltimore area seems to hold plenty of opportunity for female firefighters looking to move up in their departments. In May 2015, the Baltimore City Fire Department promoted Teresa Everett to be its first-ever female assistant fire chief. Everett shared some of story last year in a profile segment from ABC2.
Aubert-Utz said they actually had the chance to meet for the first time this year. Despite being in different jurisdictions, she said, “we both have very large organizations, so it takes plenty of time to catch up to other people and establish those connections.”
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