Published Date Written by Gail OberLACONIA — Deputy Fire Chief Deb Pendergast is one of 20 fire chiefs or aspiring fire chiefs chosen nationwide to participate in a year long leadership development course created by the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
Pendergast, who is also the only person selected from New England, will go to a six-day introductory residency in Leesburg, Virginia in March and then participate in four to six months of self study while in Laconia.
The group of 20 meets again in Chicago in August and participants will chose a project that contributes to the enhancement of the fire service and to actively participate in professional organizations at the state or national level.
At the end of the year-long project, participants will come together again for a final two-day briefing session.
Pendergast said she learned of the scholarship program — the entire program is paid for by a grant from the Motorola Solutions Foundation — through her participation in the International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services.
"I thought I didn't stand a chance but was told yesterday I was accepted," she said yesterday afternoon.
"This is very exciting," she said. "I have a career goal of being a fire chief."
Pendergast said the city of Laconia has been wonderful to her but she does have aspirations to be sitting at the top of a fire department someday.
There are two female fire chiefs in central New Hampshire — Chief Eleanor Marden of Holderness and Chief Deanna Ford of Hill. Pendergast said she doesn't know of any career female fire chiefs in the state.
Of the 20 people selected to participate in the program, four including Pendergast are women. Other female participants are deputy chiefs from Los Angeles, California and Alexandra, Virginia along with a battalion chief from Oakland, California.