Holly Mulholland named new deputy fire chief for the Rochester Fire Department

Holly Mulholland has worked with RFD since 2008 as a firefighter, motor operator, captain, battalion chief and assistant chief. She is the first female to serve as deputy chief for RPD.

Holly Mulholland
Assistant Fire Chief Holly Mulholland is the first woman to hold her position in the history of the Rochester Fire Department. Here she poses for a portrait inside Fire Station Two in Northeast Rochester on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. She is now the first woman to serve in the deputy fire chief role as of March 2023.
Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bulletin file photo

ROCHESTER — As the first female in many roles at the Rochester Fire Department, Holly Mulholland has moved up the ranks again to deputy fire chief.

Mulholland has worked with RFD since 2008, holding the positions of firefighter, motor operator, captain, battalion chief and assistant chief. The deputy chief role became vacant when previous deputy chief Vance Swisher accepted the role of fire chief in Ankeny, Iowa.

“We are always happy to see members of the RFD team have the opportunity to grow and develop into various roles across the department," Fire Chief Eric Kerska said in a news release. "Holly is an example of working her way up through the ranks, while seeking the training, education and experiences needed to become a strategic leader. Holly is a great leader and a perfect fit for deputy chief.”

The deputy chief provides leadership and strategic direction for the overall operation and administration of the Rochester Fire Department and may assume the role of fire chief in their absence.

Mulholland is a canine handler for Minnesota K9 Search Specialists and serves as the team’s vice president. She has also served as an instructor for the department's training response to active shooter events.


“I am humbled and honored to have been appointed to the position of deputy chief of the Rochester Fire Department,” Mulholland said. “I look forward to pursuing the next chapter of my career with this phenomenal department that is made so by the incredibly talented and professional staff.”

She also continues to lead the department's public relations group, which she started in 2017.

While Mulholland will be the first woman to hold the deputy chief role, RFD has been introducing the fire profession to the next generation, including communities that may have not considered it as a career before. The high school firefighter program and the Women’s Expo are two programs the department has been providing to help with their recruitment goals.

"There's a lot of good that can come when the team that's responding to an emergency is reflective of the community, and we know that,” she said.

For her own continued growth, Mulholland is participating in the Executive Fire Officer program at the National Fire Academy and the International Association of Fire Chiefs-Fire Service Executive Development Institute.

“It went quick for me,” Mulholland said in a 2022 interview with the Post Bulletin about her career. “If you asked the 28-year-old me when I first got on if I knew that’s where I was headed, I think I would have told you no.”

Holly Mulholland was named the newest deputy fire chief for Rochester Fire Department in March 2023. She is the department's first female to serve in the role.
Contributed / Rochester Fire Department

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