By Natalie Caula
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) – Charleston Fire Department's new chief says she's happy to return home to the south.
In a press conference Tuesday, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley formally introduced new chief Karen Brack, who joins the department from Eugene, Oregon with more than 30 years of experience.
"It was a hard job because we had so many extremely qualified candidates. But after all the process, one stood out," Mayor Riley said.
Brack says she's got a list of priorities for the department as she enters the position following Chief Tom Carr's departure.
"Fire marshal's Office is huge. The formation for the fire marshal's office recently and getting that division up and running and getting that the resources," Brack said.
She also says she wants to focus on the training division and vows to continue the progress for the department following the fatal Sofa Super Store fire where nine firefighters died.
"There are so many items the department has already addressed and anything else that's left is in progress and we will continue working to improve anything to improve our service to the community," she said.
Deputy Chief Frank Finley was the interim chief and now returns to deputy chief duties. He says having a new leader always brings in new perspective.
"It gives you a new direction even though you keep going through the same path. It gives you new energy and new insight into the problems and your direction," he said.
Chief Brack says Eugene was a strong union environment and we asked her how that experience could translate to her role as chief in Charleston, where a smaller union exists.
"I was actually fortunate when I went to the city of Eugene because I was given the opportunity to work in a very, very strong union environment and it was educational for me, but I will tell you what I told the people in Eugene, if I'm a good manager and if we're good employers then were going to try to do the right thing. I don't need an outside organization that's going to try to tell me. I'm going to try to do the right thing for my employees," Brack said.
The year ahead already holds some changes with the construction of a new headquarters' building, which will include the administrative offices.