CVFD has a new boss
For the first time in more than six decades of service, the Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department has a female chief.
Virginia McMichael was elected to that position at the department’s annual meeting Feb. 6. While she might be the department’s first woman boss, McMichael said she won’t have any trouble fitting into her new role.
“Most of the time I’m just one of the guys,” McMichael said Monday, Feb. 18.
McMichael has served on the all-volunteer department for 20 years, and previously served as Assistant Chief under Tom Reinbolt.
“I guess I’ve just gone up the ranks,” she said.
Reinbolt said he plans to continue as a volunteer with the department, but was forced to step down as chief because of a work opportunity outside the department.
“Life has a way of getting in the way,” he joked.
Reinbolt said he has all the confidence in the world in his former assistant.
“I think Virginia will do very well,” he said. “She is certainly no stranger to the department, having served as assistant chief for the last eight years.”
McMichael said her love of fire and rescue work dates back to her days watching the TV show “Emergency,” as a kid in the 1970s.
“My mother told me I was crazy,” she said.
McMichael said she loves helping people and the camaraderie she gets from serving on the tight-knit department.
“I think my favorite thing would definitely have to be the family environment,” she said. “It’s a sense of community.”
Among McMichael’s top priorities as chief will be seeing the department through a transitional period while a new multimillion-dollar station is built near Fire Lake.
“Our biggest focus is getting that station built,” she said of the facility, which is scheduled to open in the summer of 2014.
McMichael’s election coincides with several changes at the department, which has operated in the area since 1952. She said the CVFD has a pair of new assistant chiefs, along with four new captains.
Stepping into the role of Assistant Chief of Operations will be Sven Hall, while Mike Whitesell will take over as Assistant Chief of Support. The new captains are Matt Lauer (Capt. 1), Wes Raley (Capt. 2), Kit McCutcheon (acting Capt. 3) and Marshall Morgan (Capt. 4).
McMichael said she’s looking forward to the challenges of being the department’s newest chief. And after 20 years with the department, she said the fast pace of working in a volunteer fire department is something that never gets old.
“It’s got its moments,” she said.
Editor's note: The original version of this story contained an incorrect spelling for Assistant Chief of Support Mike Whitesell. It as been corrected.
Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727.