LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Lexington Fire Chief Kristin Chilton, one of a handful of women who has become chief of a career fire department in the U.S., plans to retire in January.
“Through vision and experience, Kristin Chilton has continued, and built upon, the tradition of excellence in one of the best fire departments in the country,” Mayor Linda Gorton said. “We will miss her.”
Chilton is a 28-year veteran of the Lexington force. She worked her way up through numerous assignments, giving her a broad range of experience.
In the letter announcing her retirement, Chilton told Mayor Linda Gorton, “You, the City Council, and the residents of Lexington and Fayette County were dedicated to providing every tool necessary for our department to succeed and grow, even during difficult times, and we made every effort to prove that your trust was well placed.”
Chilton first became interested in a career in firefighting in 1990 after visiting Station 1 on Third Street as part of a first-aid class at Transylvania University.
At Station 1 she met Lisa Daley, Lexington’s first woman firefighter and a paramedic, who encouraged her to apply.
The division’s accomplishments during Chilton’s tenure include: earning one of the highest scores in the country from the Insurance Services Organization, which measures the effective of fire protection services in cities nationwide; establishment of the community paramedicine program; a significant expansion of the department’s services; the opening of a new fire station and upgrading of other stations; increasing the safety and efficiency of the stations; installed more than 25,000 smoke alarms, saving 14 lives; and improved firefighter recruitment, with an emphasis on diversity;
A search committee will conduct a search of both internal and external applicants.
Chilton said she looks forward to spending more time with family, traveling, and volunteering with various animal welfare organizations that are important to her.
Chilton and her husband, Richard Jordan, a retired assistant chief with the Lexington Fire Department, live on a small farm with their adopted daughter.