Chief Amesqua to Leave MFD in January 2012

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - 7:09am

City of Madison Fire Chief Debra Amesqua announced her intention to retire today. The Chief said her last day would be January 3, 2012. At that time she will have been Chief for 16 years.

Chief Amesqua was the first woman fire chief in the State of Wisconsin and, at the time, one of only 7 women chiefs in the country.

In a message to staff prior to a morning news conference, Chief Amesqua emphasized the teamwork that "built on the strengths of the Department and made it even better."

During Chief Amesqua's tenure, the Department has grown to meet the needs of the rapidly expanding City of Madison, opening two new stations (in 2005 and 2009), and moving a third to a new location.

In the area of EMS, Chief Amesqua championed consistent protocols throughout Dane County, first leading the way with an ALS Intergovernmental agreement that dropped county-wide boundaries for the 18 most serious types of EMS calls; and later working toward consistent, county-wide protocols adopted for all Advanced Life Support agencies in Dane County.

Chief Amesqua was also an early and vigorous supporter of strong prevention programming, working with the Common Council to approve a City-wide smoke alarm ordinance addressing lack of working smoke alarms in residences, and supporting the implementation of a Department-wide smoke alarm installation program to place more than 6,000 updated smoke alarms in 1,100 City homes; and one-on-one education during installation to more than 1,400 homeowners.

Those efforts helped to improve fire safety in a measureable way. The City of Madison recorded a single fire fatality in a 3 ½ -year span. (The national average is 7-8 fatalities in 3-year span).

Chief Amesqua says this model is a template for the future of the fire service that Madison is using now: "To meet the challenges of the future, every member of the Madison Fire Department understands that all elements of risk reduction and response have equal weight."

That approach is being recognized statewide. At last night's Common Council meeting, the Council commended and congratulated the Chief Debra Amesqua on being named Chief of the Year by the Wisconsin State Fire Inspectors Association.

  • Lori Wirth, (608) 266-5947