Tag Archives: Debra Pryor

Two Berkeley women to be honored by county in March

Debra Pryor, left, and Rita Sahai will be honored later this month as part of the 20th anniversary celebration of the Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame. Photos: Alameda County
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Two women with Berkeley ties will be inducted into the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame later this month, county officials have announced. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Hall of Fame, and both women, along with eight others, will be celebrated March 23 at a luncheon in Oakland.

“Each of these outstanding inductees contributes to life in our community in ways that help make Alameda County a place that is second-to-none in terms of its vibrant culture and the rich diversity,” said Alameda County Administrator Susan S. Muranishi, an event co-chair, in a prepared statement. “Our Women’s Hall of Fame also continues to flourish, and we believe our newest inductees will help make 2013 our best year ever.” … Continue reading »

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Fire chief retires after 27 years, with many ‘firsts’

Debra Pryor
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Looking back on her nearly three decades at the Berkeley Fire Department, Chief Debra Pryor said her philosophy has been to tune out her detractors, take the support that’s been offered to her, and keep the spotlight focused on her team, rather than on herself.

Pryor, 51, retires Friday, Dec. 28, from the Berkeley Fire Department. Deputy Chief Gil Dong will serve as interim chief on a temporary basis.

She’s been a trailblazer in her field, as the nation’s second black female fire chief. In Berkeley, she was the city’s first female firefighter, paramedic and paramedic supervisor, and the first woman to hold the titles of lieutenant, captain, assistant chief, deputy chief and fire chief.

Pryor said it’s an aspect of her work that, frankly, she doesn’t think much about. She describes her job as “managing my resources to get all the things accomplished that need to be accomplished.”

“I would much rather shine the light on others than myself,” she added. “It keeps me humble.” … Continue reading »

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On Saturday: Berkeley practices for a major earthquake

The bright red line shows the Hayward Fault running through Berkeley
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Tomorrow morning, a (simulated) 6.9 earthquake on the Hayward Fault hits Berkeley. Do you know what to do in a major disaster?

Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) from across the city will be participating in a live exercise both to test their skills and to spread the word about effective disaster preparedness.

“This is the first time Berkeley has done this kind of citywide exercise,” said Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong. “It’s designed to get people prepared and aware about supporting themselves during a disaster.”

Dong said that 150 people representing 66 groups and many individuals had signed up for the exercise. “Getting this type of response the first time and on a Saturday in May is fantastic,” he said. Last year, the city did a more limited emergency exercise focused on radio communications. … Continue reading »

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Nine firefighters are promoted in Berkeley ceremony

Keir Rankin, promoted to Lieutenant. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Nine Berkeley firefighters were sworn into new jobs Friday in a badge pinning ceremony held at the Berkeley Rep Theatre.

Berkeley Fire Chief Debra Pryor presented the newly promoted firefighters with their badges which were then pinned by family members and close friends. The ceremony was well attended by supporters of the newly promoted public servants and was rounded off with refreshments and celebratory cake. Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan, Interim City Manager Christine Daniel, and councilmembers Kriss Worthington and Laurie Capitelli were also in the audience.

Each of the promoted firefighters spoke of their pride in working for BFD and the support they had received from individual members of the department.

Colin Arnold, a newly appointed Apparatus Operator, thanked the citizens of Berkeley for “constantly finding new ways of keeping this job exciting and giving us new things to learn.” … Continue reading »

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Fire Chief Debra Pryor: It’s important not to forget

Chief Debra Pryor: "There were a lot of lessons learned"
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In October 1991, Debra Pryor was a newly promoted Lieutenant in the Berkeley Fire Department. She spent the morning of October 20 in the South Bay with her mother, but when she returned to Berkeley, she picked up an assignment to relieve a fire crew in Roble Road that had been struggling with the firestorm.

“There was still a lot of chaos,” she recalls. “There was an awful lot of fire. There was an awful lot of damage. Lives had been lost. It was unsettling.

“My grandmother used to clean a house on Roble Court. That house wasn’t damaged. But coming on a street that the day before had been ordinary — you could see the chimneys. It looked like tombstones where the houses had been.” … Continue reading »

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Eight Berkeley firefighters promoted at pinning ceremony

Eight promoted firefighters take the oath in order for them to be sworn in.
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A row of parked fire engines made an impressive sight on a rainy Friday afternoon on Addison Street as, inside the Berkeley Repertory Thrust Theatre, eight Berkeley firefighers were promoted in a badge-pinning ceremony which also served to remind the audience what an honorable group of men and women serve and protect the Berkeley community.

Led by Fire Chief Debra Pryor, the February 18 ceremony saw close friends and family members — wives, children, mothers — proudly pinning new badges onto the lapels of the newly promoted firefighters.

Several of the firefighters being honored spoke of the sacrifices being made by their families, but the camaraderie of the force, and its ability to act as a second family to many of those who serve, was also in evidence.

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New fire equipment can shoot water from bay to hills

Hoses that carry the water
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During the 1991 Oakland hills fire, which destroyed more than 2,500 homes in Berkeley and Oakland and killed 25 people, firefighters were stymied by a lack of water.

The pumps that pushed water through the water mains and into the hills failed when the electricity went off. Scores of houses burned because they could not be protected.

That fire, along with the knowledge that an earthquake on the Hayward fault could cripple water mains, promoted Berkeley residents to pass Measure … Continue reading »

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