Avondale Fire and Medical has hired Julie Smith as the new fire division chief, overseeing professional development and training.
Prior to joining Avondale on April 5, Smith worked for the Gila River Fire Department for 15 years, most recently serving in the role as captain and acting battalion chief.
“What really excites me right now is the personnel development part of the organization,” Smith said. “And honestly, the development and the growth of the organization is just something that I’m really looking forward to being a part of.”
During her time with Gila River, Smith earned her paramedic certification, served as lead recruit training officer and ran the EMS Supplies division. Her credentials also include a bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology and anthropology from New Mexico Highlands University.
“It’s a different perspective,” Smith said, referring to the transition from Gila River to Avondale. “But in terms of training and different things that I was doing in Gila River, I’m bringing that experience over here and basically bringing in a new, different perspective, but at the same time I’m learning a lot by how Avondale’s been doing things.”
As a woman in a field where females make up less than 10% of the U.S. fire service, Smith said she hopes her new role inspires other women and proves that persistence pays off.
“If it’s something that you truly care about, if you’re persistent and you keep training and you keep getting educated, you will climb that ladder and you will accomplish what you want to want to accomplish,” Smith said.
She added her greatest advice for women and all those hoping to join fire and medical service is to be eager to learn and ready to work.
“If there’s any education that’s being offered, any training that’s being offered, take it and learn from everybody. Good, bad, indifferent, you just have to learn from everybody,” she said.
When she started the Avondale job, Smith said she was initially overwhelmed. She’s grateful for her colleagues for the smooth transition.
“Everybody has been absolutely welcoming, from the fire department to HR to everybody I’ve come in contact with. Even people I still have not met have been absolutely just very welcoming,” she said.
Tony Corsi, director of Avondale Fire and Medical, said Smith’s impressive qualifications make her a great hire for the city.
“Through the recruitment process for this position, we were glad to find an extremely qualified person in Julie. She is a great addition to the team, and we welcome her perspective as a leader in the department,” Corsi said.
Moving forward, Smith said she is looking forward to getting to know the Avondale community.
“I love to get to know people and I love to talk to people, and I’ll do my best to do everything I can to make Avondale a better place as far as whatever they need me to do in the office or out in the field or on calls. I’m very excited to be here,” Smith said.