The Santa Clara Fire Department has promoted Jenn Panko to battalion chief, making her the first female chief officer to serve with the department.

Panko, who started with the department in 1997 and became a fire captain in 2007, will serve in the role of EMS battalion chief, overseeing the delivery of emergency medical services.

She is also a founding board member of NorCal Women in the Fire Service, a nonprofit created in 2018 that works with fire departments around the Bay Area to host Girls Fire Camps that teach high school girls about fire service skills and encourages them to pursue a career in a field in which only 4 percent of sworn fire service members are women.

“An extensive range of skills is required to successfully respond to the community’s needs,” Panko said in a statement. “The more diverse skills our group of responders possess, the better prepared we will be for any challenge.”

Dan McMenamin is the managing editor at Bay City News, directing daily news coverage of the 12-county greater Bay Area. He has worked for BCN since 2008 and has been managing editor since 2014 after previously serving as BCN’s San Francisco bureau reporter. A UC Davis graduate, he came to BCN after working for a newspaper and nonprofit in the Davis area. He handles staffing, including coaching of our interns, day-to-day coverage decisions and management of the newswire.