Debra Rene' Pryor was named Fire Chief of the Berkeley, California, Fire Department in early November of 2004. She began her duties as chief in mid-December, becoming only the second African-American woman ever to serve as chief of a career-level fire department.
Pryor is a 19-year veteran of the fire service, starting out in 1985 as the first woman firefighter ever hired by the Berkeley Fire Department. Moving up through the ranks, she became a firefighter/paramedic, apparatus operator, lieutenant, assistant fire marshall, captain, and departmental training officer. In 1996, she was promoted to Assistant Fire Chief, and two years later to Deputy Fire Chief. In 2002, she went to the Palo Alto Fire Department as Deputy Fire Chief, where she was assigned to be the department's chief of operations.
Chief Pryor attended Holy Names High School in Oakland, California, and received an athletic scholarship in track and field to Arizona State University, where her record in the shot put still stands. She holds a B.A. in communication, and a master's degree in public administration. She has served as president of the Alameda County Training Officers Association, and has been active in the Northern California chapter of the Intergovernmental Management Training Program. Chief Pryor has been a student in the National Fire Academy's Executive Officer Development Program, and is a graduate of the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute. She is also a long-time member of Women in the Fire Service.
NETWORKING THE WOMEN OF TODAY'S FIREFIGHTING WORLD, AND PROVIDING RESOURCES TO HELP BUILD THE FIRE SERVICE OF THE FUTURE