For the AJC
1:42 p.m. Sunday, October 17, 2010
When College Park Fire Chief Teresa Everett first entertained the thought of leaving her position as deputy chief of training in Rochester, N.Y, she had one overriding thought.
“I’m looking for a home, not just a job, in a nice part of the country,” Everett said.
She seems to have gotten her wish when she was installed as College Park’s first female fire chief Oct.4.
Even though she has just started her $103,000 position with the city, she has already noticed a big change from Rochester.
“There are a lot of mutual aid agreements with neighboring jurisdictions that I’m getting used to,” she said.
She is also constantly aware of the relationship between Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and her new city. While the airport maintains its own fire department, College Park would be one of the first departments called if assistance was needed.
“I’ve discovered that it’s quite a global community here. There are lots of people here during the day because of the airport and we have to realize that there are a lot of things going on,” she said.
Everett brings more than 20 years experience to the position and has served in different capacities from chairing the Miami-Dade Board of Fire Directors in 2000-01 to heading up training for firefighters in Rochester from 2007-10.
Growing up, being a firefighter was not first on her career list. Everett graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo with a degree in psychology and then gravitated toward Florida where her family lived. She worked with non-profit groups, such as Broward County Transit, YWCA of Greater Miami, and the Community Health of South Dade, Inc. and eventually started working with the Miami-Dade Criminal Justice Institute,
“I noticed how strenuous the training was for firefighters and thought that would be an excellent challenge,” she said.
Everett took up the challenge in 1989 as the director of fire administration at the Miami-Dade Fire Academy and started climbing her way up the firefighter career ladder and focused her efforts on the training aspect of the profession. While she was happy with her position in Rochester, she did not hesitate to make the move to College Park. She left a department of more than 535 officers, and now heads up a department of 80. She’s evaluating the operations of the department and determining things that can be improved.
She is also one of a few women fire chiefs in Georgia. Hall County’s David Kimbrell, who serves as president of the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs, said his organization does not have an exact figure on the number of top women firefighters in the state.
“She’s well qualified to do the job,” said Mayor Jack Longino in a statement released when Everett was hired. “We conducted an extensive search, and I’m excited about her opportunity to become our new chief.”
Everett also appears to be quite happy in her new position. She’s also pleased on being closer to her parents’ home in Miami.
“I plan on being here a long time. Now, if I can just get them to move here.”