82.1 F
Charlotte Amalie
Monday, February 6, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesSt. John Gets First-Ever Female Fire Chief

St. John Gets First-Ever Female Fire Chief

May 16, 2007 — The V.I. Fire Service has appointed Winifred Powell as fire chief for the island of St. John, making her the first female to hold the post.
Powell was the best person for the job, said Glen Francis, fire chief for the district of St. Thomas and St. John. Holding the formal title of deputy district fire chief, Powell said she didn't think of herself as a first achiever.
"It's no different serving in this capacity than serving in the last capacity," she said. "You're here to do a job and you just make sure it's done."
Francis said he placed Powell in the position back in April during the time he served as interim Fire Service director in the first months of the deJongh administration. He based his choice on her years of experience in the service and the different kinds of expertise she had amassed in several areas, including emergency medical service, hazardous materials, administration and investigations, Francis said.
He also liked her straightforward manner: "She is not afraid to stand her ground on points that she believes in, and I think those are qualities we need. She's a very well-disciplined person, also, and those are qualities I was looking for."
The new St. John fire chief comes from a family with a firefighting tradition. Her father, retired firefighter Winston Powell, was recently honored along with several others for bravery during the Carib Gas explosion on St. Thomas in the mid 1970s. She was preceded into the fire service by an older sister and a brother. And she remembers stories her parents told her about how she used to put on her father's fire gear as a child.
"I remember being around the station when I was older, in elementary and secondary school," Powell said. However, her first move was toward medical service, taking nursing and EMS training, she said. Work in the Fire Service came later.
Since then, Powell said, she has learned a lot on the job. Now as fire chief, she says, she wants to encourage others to grow as well. She also said she wants to build confidence in the local Fire Service among the St. John community.
"What I would like to see happen is that we have more St. Johnian firefighters who know the island better, who are a part of the community, who can dedicate themselves to the community and are more willing to dedicate more of himself or herself to the community," Powell said. "Just for a better way of life and a more comfortable sense of security for everybody."

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.