Wichita Fire Chief Ron Blackwell, who has held the top job in the department for nearly 10 years, retired on July 14.

In recognition of his long career, the City of Wichita held a retirement party for him and a community retirement celebration was held July 15 at Botanica.

Blackwell, a native of Kansas City, Missouri, began his fire service career in 1970 when he joined the Air Force. His four-year tour included assignments in Cheyenne, Wyoming; Okinawa, Japan; and Texas.

In 2007, Blackwell returned to Wichita to become the city’s 13th fire chief. He was the department’s first African-American fire chief.

As a show of appreciation for his service to the Wichita Fire Department, Chief Blackwell received awards from the Kansas Southwest Jurisdiction Church of God in Christ, Greater Wichita Ministerial League, Wichita Branch NAACP, a proclamation from City of Wichita presented by Council persons Lavonta Williams, James Clendenin and Mayor Jeff Longwell, a proclamation from the Kansas State Senate presented by Senator Oletha Faust Goudeau and a plaque from the Kansas State Federation of Fire Chiefs presented by Brad Smith.

Tammy Snow has been named the interim fire chief, making her Wichita’s first female fire chief . She began that role on July 17.

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