In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’d like to introduce a few of the many brave and talented women who work in the Philadelphia Fire Department. Women make up about 12 percent of the approximately 2,600 employees in the department.

  1. Assistant Deputy Commissioner Crystal Yates. A 20-year PFD veteran, Yates is the first African-American woman promoted to paramedic chief. She became an assistant deputy commissioner last year and is currently the highest-ranking uniformed woman in the department. She has two adult children.
  2. Deputy Chief Diane Schweizer. Schweizer was the first woman ever to serve as a deputy commissioner, and as a paramedic she became the PFD’s first-ever female chief. With 23 years on the job, she remains the only female deputy chief in the field today.
  3. Battalion Chief Linda Long. Long (above, right) became Philadelphia’s first female fire chief in 2017. She first worked in EMS — eventually being promoted to paramedic chief — before returning to the Fire Academy as a 39-year-old firefighter recruit. Long, a mom and grandmom, rose through the ranks and now oversees Battalion 9 in Germantown.
  4. Capt. Lisa Forrest. Forrest is the first African-American woman promoted to fire captain and the first to serve as president of Club Valiants, the organization for black firefighters, paramedics and EMTs. She’s now stationed at Engine 44 and has 14 years on the job.
  5. Lt. Diane Mercer. One of the first three women hired by the PFD in 1985, Mercer spent most of her career in the Fire Prevention Division. She has been working in the Fire Code Unit for the past two years. Before joining the department, she served in the Navy as an air-traffic controller.
  6. Lt. Joyce Craig. Craig had 11 years on the job when she tragically became the first female PFD member to die in the line of duty in December 2014. The mother of two is memorialized in a mural at the Lawncrest Free Library.
  7. Lt. Cecilia Ortiz. Ortiz (above, left) joined the PFD in 2005 and spent eight years in the field. She currently serves as an instructor and certification officer at the Fire Academy. In 2012, Ortiz helped launch the Fire Explorers program for young adults interested in careers in fire service or EMS.
  8. Firefighter Jen Leary. Leary has worked for the PFD for seven years. Her experience at fire scenes led her to create the Red Paw Emergency Relief Team, which helps pets displaced by fires and other disasters. She’s also vice president of the new PFD Foundation.
  9. Chief Dispatcher Kelly Collins. Collins manages the hard-working supervisors and dispatchers in our Fire Communications Center, which handled nearly 568,000 calls last year. Collins has more than 20 years of combined experience as a dispatcher at the PFD and the University of Pennsylvania’s Police Department.
  10. The women of the E-Team. Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel’s executive team includes Chief of Staff Tara Mohr; Assistant Deputy Commissioner Crystal Yates; Assistant Deputy Commissioner Shonique McCall; Assistant Deputy Commissioner Kristin El Idrissi; Assistant Deputy Commissioner Natasha Nau; and Communications Director Kathy Matheson. Don’t mess with them — El Idrissi is a second-degree black belt in judo who has competed worldwide as a member of the U.S. national team.