Bertral Washington was appointed Chief of the Pasadena Fire Department on December 15, 2014. Born and raised in Southern California, where he met his wife Cheri, a Pasadena native. The Washingtons are Pasadena residents and the proud parents of two teenagers, a son and a daughter.
Since Chief Washington’s appointment, the Pasadena Fire Department joined only about 200 agencies internationally that are accredited by the Center for Public Safety Excellence, Commission on Fire Accreditation International. The department also improved its Public Protection Classification rating from an Insurance Services Office (ISO) Class 3, to an ISO Class 1, which can result in lower insurance premiums for the community. Only about 80 of over 30,000 fire departments in the country, and just five in California, are both accredited and ISO Class 1.
Before returning to the Los Angeles area, Chief Washington served as Fire Chief in the Las Vegas area with approximately 900,000 residents, including the Las Vegas Strip. He has been recognized locally, statewide, nationally and internationally by several organizations; and promoted through the ranks of Firefighter, Fire Training Officer, Captain, Battalion Chief, Assistant Fire Chief and ultimately Fire Chief.
Chief Washington holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from UNLV, a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Howard University, and an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science Management from the College of Southern Nevada. He also completed coursework at the Harvard Kennedy School Senior Executives in State and Local Government, the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute at Dillard University and Leadership Pasadena. He has served with several local, state and federal boards, organizations and non-profits, including the American Red Cross San Gabriel/Pomona Valley, First Tee of Greater Pasadena, Leadership Pasadena, Friendship Pasadena Board of Trustees, Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute, Aspires West, Sigma Pi Phi Gamma Zeta Boule Foundation, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Pasadena Rotary Club and the Pasadena Fire Foundation.
Chief Washington’s work in his community started very early in life. While at Westchester High School, where he was recently recognized as one of the first Distinguished Alumni, he served as a leader in various student programs and associations. He also lettered in track and football and was part of the school’s only Los Angeles City Championship football team.
While at Howard University, Washington served as an intern at a non-profit promoting voter participation across the country. He returned to Los Angeles to fulfill a desire to serve as a public school teacher, which was rare among African American males. Mr. Washington earned a long-term substitute teaching assignment in South LA and continued to teach in South LA, even after being hired in Las Vegas one year later.
Chief Washington has also served as an instructor at the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute (EDI) since 1999. Dr. Holmes, under the IABPFF, established EDI during a time when African American firefighters were impeded to attend the country’s National Fire Academy. Chief Washington is now a Board Member for the institute and responsible for ensuring its sustainability and effectiveness into the future.
As a certified Master Instructor, Washington created a relationship between a community college and a non-profit to provide free training targeted to populations under-represented in the fire service. This also resulted in college credits and key certifications for students, which were necessary to meet minimum qualifications for job opportunities. As a result, women and men were hired into fire service, law enforcement and other career-oriented professions. Currently, his department engages the community through the Pasadena Fire Explorers youth program, joint public safety academies, Pasadena Fire Foundation, public education activities, and the Pasadena Outreach Response Team (PORT) to improve services to the homeless and transition them into housing.
Besides his dedication and commitment to the City of Pasadena as a resident, mentor and role model for all people, Chief Washington has led his department to many achievements sought by Fire Chiefs across the country. He ensures Pasadena is well-represented by serving as Area Director for the California Fire Chiefs Association, Operational Area Coordinator for the California Office of Emergency Services Area C, Immediate Past-President of the Los Angeles Fire Chiefs Association and participant at Fire Chiefs’ White House Roundtable in Washington, D.C. What more might the City of Pasadena be looking for in its leaders? Why reassign him, with no explanation, during this active political season? We want and need answers from the City; and we need to have this model leader returned to his rightful place for the benefit of our City.