PLEASANTON -- The alarm bells rang out at the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department, and Deputy Chief Jane Moorhead received her customary Hawaiian shirt, ceremoniously welcoming her into retirement.
Moorhead's last roll call came Dec. 21 after nearly 18 years with the department. In 1995, she broke ground when she was hired as the department's first female firefighter-paramedic. She rose through the ranks to become the department's first female captain, battalion chief and deputy chief. It all occurred, she says, "by happenstance."
"I never really saw myself as a trailblazer," Moorhead said. "I really felt like I was able to take advantage of all the hard work (other women) had done to blaze that trail. The guys were good about providing an environment that was welcoming."
A Bay Area native, Moorhead grew up in Oakland, attending Oakland High. She earned a degree in forestry at UC Berkeley and in 1979 joined the East Bay Regional Park District as a ranger. Focusing on emergency medical services and wildland firefighting, Moorhead was one of the district's two emergency medical technicians. After finishing paramedic school in 1989, she worked for the Benicia Fire Department before moving on to Pleasanton.
Moorhead, 56, lives in Dublin with her husband, Bob Heady. The two are active mountain bikers, hikers and kayakers. Moorhead said she'll continue teaching paramedics through Las Positas College's EMT and fire science programs but will miss the "intense personal satisfaction" of making people feel better.
"It all comes down to what an amazing job this is," Moorhead explained. "People allowing us into their homes and letting us take care of them is a real privilege."
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184 or follow him at twitter.com/jet_bang.