Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, currently the Fire Chief of the Austin Fire Department and President of the Metropolitan “Metro” Fire Chiefs Association, is a fourth-generation firefighter who began her career in the fire service in 1983. Chief Kerr was sworn in as the President of the Metro Chiefs in May 2016, where she also received the 2016 President’s Award for Distinction.
In addition to her role as Fire Chief, Chief Kerr was appointed by President Barack Obama in December 2016 to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council. She joins academic, public, and private experts who advise the President on matters regarding the security of critical infrastructure and related information systems.
Prior to beginning her tenure in Austin in 2009, Chief Kerr served in the same position with the city of Little Rock, Arkansas for five years. She was also Deputy Fire Chief at Fort Lauderdale, Florida for five years but with that department for more than 20 years; it was the place she began her career in firefighting. Prior to entering the fire service, Chief Kerr was a coach and physical education teacher at the high school level for 12 years.
Chief Kerr has been a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) since 1991. She served as President from August 2015 to August 2016, the first time a female has served in that role in the IAFC’s 141-year history. She was also Past Chair of the Human Relations Committee of the IAFC, Past President of the National Society of Executive Fire Officers (NSEFO), and the past Southwest Director of the National Society of Executive Fire Officers. She currently serves as the Vice President of the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs’ Association, and is actively involved as a member of the FireRescue magazine Editorial Board and the Austin Area Urban League. She is also a member of the Texas Fire Chief’s Association and the Capital Area Fire Chief’s Association, and the International Association of Women in the Fire and Emergency Services. Chief Kerr also serves on the Advisory Committee for St. Edward’s University’s Public Safety Management Program, and was recently honored as a 2013 Girl Scouts of Central Texas Woman of Distinction.
Chief Kerr holds a Master’s in Public Administration (Florida International University), a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education and Health (William Paterson University), an Associate’s degree in Fire Science Technology (Broward Community College), and two certifications from the Harvard University program—one for Senior Executives in State and Local Government—and the other for the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative. She is also a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.
Chief Kerr is an avid sports enthusiast, enjoying cycling, golf, tennis, and skiing.
July 15, 2015: Chief Kerr Elected IAFC President