Interim chief is first female to lead Mo. FD in its 150-year history

By Glenn E. Rice
The Kansas City Star

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Donna Maize, a 26-year veteran of the Kansas City Fire Department, has been named interim chief, according to city officials.

Maize is the first woman to lead the fire department in any capacity since its inception more than 150 years ago.

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Her appointment represents a significant milestone for a department that at one time was known for blatant sexual harassment and abusive treatment of women firefighters.

In 2001 and 2002, juries awarded verdicts in favor of two female firefighters who complained of sex discrimination.

More recently, the fire department has faced other problems. A federal lawsuit filed last year alleged that African-American firefighters were discriminated against when seeking promotions. In 2017 the department lost a similar lawsuit, resulting in a $356,694 award to a black firetruck driver.

In the past year, a fire captain has been indicted on charges of illegal arms sales and a firefighter has been charged with body slamming and punching a woman during a road rage incident.

Maize replaces Gary Reese, who announced last month that he was stepping down after serving less than two years as the city’s fire chief.

Maize most recently served as an assistant city manager for public safety.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas congratulated Maize on Twitter.

“[Kansas City] is lucky to have you and we’re proud of her stewardship of some important issues for the future of our community.”

“KCFD has been a part of my life since birth when the selection of my first name was made by the firefighters that worked with my father,” Maize in a message posted on the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 42 Facebook page.