With a career spanning over four decades, Clermont Assistant Fire Chief Kathy Johnston exemplifies the epitome of dedication, leadership, and trailblazing spirit. As she bids farewell to the Clermont Fire Department, her impact and legacy are celebrated.
Johnston began her firefighting career in October 1978, making history as the first female volunteer at Pine Hills Fire Department. Her passion and commitment set the stage for a groundbreaking journey that would span multiple cities and shape the landscape of the fire service.
From her early days as a volunteer, Johnston’s journey included becoming a full-time firefighter/paramedic with Union Park Fire Department in 1981. In 1982, she joined the Orlando Fire Department, breaking barriers as one of the first female firefighters/paramedics in the department’s history. Her commitment to excellence was evident as she climbed the ranks, achieving the titles of Lieutenant in 1986, District Chief in 1992, and Assistant Chief in 1996.
Her leadership extended beyond the fire station, earning an MBA in 1986 and subsequently being appointed Deputy Chief of the Administrative Services Bureau in 2003 by Mayor Buddy Dyer. Her influence was felt not only in Orlando but also on a national level, as she served as the Deputy Commander with Florida 6 Disaster Medical Assistance Team, contributing to disaster response efforts post-Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
In 2014, Johnston joined the Clermont Fire Department, leaving an indelible mark on the organization. Her leadership was instrumental in achieving International Accreditation and an ISO Class-1 rating, marking the department’s commitment to excellence. Under her guidance, the department completed its transition to a fully paid career department, and she oversaw the opening of new fire stations and the deployment of specialized units.
Johnston’s legacy extends beyond her impressive resume. She emphasized inclusivity, integrity, compassion, and mentorship. Her tenure at the Clermont Fire Department was marked by achievements in the EMS and Training divisions, successful grant applications, and a steadfast commitment to the well-being and professional development of her team. She holds the #15 certificate for the State of Florida.
In her retirement, Johnston leaves behind not just a department but a legacy of inspiration and resilience.
(Pictures and information sourced from the CFD)