Huntington Fire Chief to retire, receive new city title

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 9:05 AM EST
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – The City of Huntington’s Fire Chief announced Friday she is hanging up her fire helmet and putting away her boots to step into a different role serving the city.

According to Mayor Steve Williams, Fire Chief Jan Rader will retire, effective February 11, 2022, and transition into the role of director of the Mayor’s Council on Public Health and Drug Control Policy.

Chief Rader was the City of Huntington’s first female fire chief and the first woman to serve as chief of a professional fire department in West Virginia. Rader has been with the Huntington Fire Department for 27 years. She was hired in August of 1994, named interim fire chief in December of 2016 and then sworn in as the permanent chief in March of 2017.

“I have shed tears, mourned, laughed and rejoiced with both coworkers and citizens during the past 27 years,” Rader said. “The firefighters who guard this community are dedicated first responders and true heroes. I am proud to have served with each one of them and know they will excel moving forward.”

In 2017, a Netflix documentary showing Huntington’s fight against addiction, highlighted Rader’s joint efforts to combat the ongoing epidemic.

In 2018, Rader was recognized on a national scale, named one of TIME Magazine’s Top 100 Influential People.

Huntington fire chief named one of TIME’s top 100 influential people

Rader says her greatest accomplishments are addressing fatigue and PTSD in firefighters while also helping fix decades long issues with the pension.

“We owe Chief Rader a debt of thanks for her leadership, her heart and her fortitude,” Williams said. “Fortunately, we are not saying goodbye to her. While she may be saying farewell to the fire service, she will continue to assist our efforts in the battle against substance use disorder and the ongoing public health challenges facing our city, state and nation. We aren’t done yet.”

Mayor Williams says the next step is to assemble a citizen-based search committee that will assist him in the selection of a new Huntington fire chief. The names of the committee members will be announced in the future.

“The committee members will be trusted individuals who will have the capabilities of vetting fire chief candidates thoroughly and recommending finalists to me whose vision of public safety reflects the needs of our community,” said Mayor Williams.

Mayor Williams says he will announce more details regarding the mission of the Council on Public Health and Drug Control Policy in the coming weeks.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin nominated Rader for Time Magazine’s Top 100 Most influential people. Friday, he released the following statement:

“I have never met someone who exudes the values of public service more than Jan Rader. Our state, country and world would be a better place with more people like her. It’s impossible to quantify everything Chief Rader has given to Huntington and our entire state. As the first woman in West Virginia to lead a professional fire department she broke down barriers for young women and served as a true inspiration for all West Virginians. Her leadership in combating the drug epidemic has been instrumental and we are all grateful. I know she will continue to lead Huntington forward as the new Director of the Mayor’s Council on Public Health and Drug Control Policy.”

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin

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