TFRD Chief candidates vying to be first woman, second African American in history

Toledo Fire and Rescue has three finalists for their new chief (WNWO).

Toledo Fire and Rescue Chief Luis Santiago is set to retire in just over two weeks, after more than 30 years of service.

Now, it's time to find his replacement, and Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz announced the three finalists on Wednesday.

"I've actually been around all of them, in different capacities. I worked for most of them and worked with a couple of them. They're strong firefighters. They have varying backgrounds with strengths. You know them because you've worked with them or for them," said Pvt. Sterling Rahe.

Two candidates, David Hitt and Brian Byrd, are both African Americans and both Battalion Chiefs.

Hitt has been with TFRD since 1984 and Byrd since 1988.

Either candidate would be the second African American Chief in Toledo's history.

The other candidate, Karen Marquardt , is currently the Assistant Chief and has been with the department for 22 years.

She would be the first woman chief ever.

"We all need to know that we all come from different walks of life and, regardless of where we come from, that we have opportunities out there to achieve that will affect our communities in the long run, to help rebuild our communities," said Toledo resident, Rosamaria Sanchez.

TFRD Pvt. Sterling Rahe believes all of the candidates will relate well to the city.

"If we're reflective of that community and all of the different neighborhoods in our city, then the diversity is going to kind of carry over with that, too. At all levels of our department, we need to and make sure that the proper people are in those positions to do the job."

Toledo resident Rosamaria Sanchez is excited for the diverse candidates because she believes it will show young people that they can do anything.

"I think for the youth, it's good for them to see there's opportunities for them to be successful, beyond local stuff."

Chief Santiago will retire Friday, August 3rd. He has been with the fire department since 1984. The mayor expects to announce his replacement sometime next week.

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