EDITOR'S NOTE: Multimedia journalist Lauren Pozen spoke with LAFD Assistant Chief Kristina Kepner on the importance of Deputy Chief Kristin Crowley’s LA fire chief nomination. Click the arrow above to watch the video.

LOS ANGELES — Kristin Crowley will be the next fire chief for the city of Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday. It is the first time in the department’s 135-year history that a woman will lead the agency.

She is replacing Ralph Terrazas, who is retiring March 26. Terrazas has spent 38 years working for the LAFD and was the city’s first Latino fire chief, serving in the role since 2014.

“At every assignment, she has performed at the highest level, and I believe she will continue to do so,” outgoing LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said of Crowley, who he promoted three times over the past seven years.

Crowley is the highest-ranking woman in the LAFD and has served in multiple roles within the department, including firefighter, paramedic, engineer, fire inspector, captain, battalion chief and, most recently, as acting fire marshal and deputy fire chief.

While 10% of the fire department leadership is currently female, just 2.86% of firefighters are women. That number is expected to grow to 4% by this summer. There are about 3,200 uniformed fire personnel in the department.

Vowing to “create, support and promote a culture that truly values inclusion, diversity and equity within the entire organization,” Crowley said her focus as chief would be maintaining and strengthening relationships and trust within the community.

“If confirmed as your new fire chief, I will be fully committed to leading and inspiring our tremendous department into an exciting future that is filled with new opportunities to grow, to innovate and to empower,” Crowley said.

The department’s No. 1 priority, she added, is to remain operationally ready.

Calling her a “leader of exceptional character,” Garcetti cited Crowley’s bravery during the Woolsey fire in November 2018, when Crowley and her wife helped evacuate a family member. They stayed for the next 16 hours, fighting flames using garden hoses and buckets of pool water to save 9 out of 10 homes on a Malibu street.

“If that isn’t heroism, I don’t know what is,” Garcetti said. “That’s what Kristin Crowley has done throughout her entire exceptional career."