Omaha’s next fire chief makes history

Kathy Bossman to become the first woman to serve as Omaha Fire Chief
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 11:38 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha Fire Department Assistant Chief Kathy Bossman is making history.

Mayor Jean Stothert announced during a news conference Thursday that Bossman, who supervises C shift and emergency medical services, will become the city’s next fire chief — and the first woman to hold the top OFD job. According to a release from the mayor’s office, C shift includes 184 firefighters and seven battalion chiefs.

As head of the EMS division, she developed and managed OFD’s COVID-19 response protocols used to protect firefighters and paramedics from exposure to the virus amid the pandemic.

“Chief Bossman takes over at a time of tremendous growth in Omaha that will require updated emergency plans, facilities, equipment and technology, and advanced training for our firefighters,” Stothert said. “I am confident Chief Bossman will successfully continue our commitment to provide the best fire and emergency medical response possible.”

Assistant Fire Chief Kathy Bossman will be the first woman to serve as Omaha Fire Chief.
Assistant Fire Chief Kathy Bossman will be the first woman to serve as Omaha Fire Chief.(KINGDON HAWES | Omaha Fire Department)

A firefighter and paramedic with the Omaha Fire Department since 1997, Bossman also helped design and implement several programs including the department-wide “Fire Away” program, a diversity, equity, and inclusion education program; employee resource groups; and the peer support program. She was promoted to captain-battalion chief before becoming an OFD assistant fire chief in 2017.

Bossman’s educational background includes a master’s degree in organizational leadership with a concentration in fire/rescue executive leadership from Waldorf University; a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UNL; an associate’s degree in science-fire science from Southeast Community College; and received her paramedic certification from Creighton University.

Stothert said during a news conference Thursday that the position was posted for internal applicants only and that five candidates applied. She said the city considered doing a national search but officials believed they “already had many excellent candidates within the department.”

“This position requires superior operational experience, finance and personnel management, and leadership and trust within the fire department and in the community,” Stothert said.

All five applicants were required to complete an independent testing process administered by 10 Solutions as part of the application process. The city’s HR director then referred the top four candidates, based on test scores, to the mayor for interviews, in accordance with City Code.

Omaha Fire Chief Dan Olsen’s retirement, announced earlier this year, goes into effect next Friday. Bossman will be sworn in as OFD Chief on that day.

According to a release from the mayor’s office, Bossman will receive an annual salary of $184,205, pending approval of the Personnel Board.

Watch Thursday’s news conference

LIVE: Omaha's next fire chief

Mayor Jean Stothert is introducing Omaha's next fire chief. Chief Olsen is set to retire next Friday. Details:

Posted by 6 News WOWT on Thursday, March 16, 2023