Ann BlackdeerWhen thinking of the fire department, images of fire trucks and firefighters often come to mind. But behind the scenes and away from the front lines, there's a clerical team working to the rhythm of the department— managing records requests, supply orders, public inquiries, and more.

One of the people keeping pace for the past 16 years is Ann Blackdeer, who retires after nearly 34 years with the City of Madison.
Blackdeer applied to the Madison Fire Department in 2007 seeking a fresh opportunity within the City. With prior experience in other agencies, including the police department, she came to the Madison Fire Department as an Administrative Clerk. Her area of specialty involved working with the Fire Prevention Division, which includes fire inspectors, the Fire Protection Engineer, elevator code enforcement officers, and the Fire Marshal.

"What I've enjoyed the most is being the bridge for the fire protection industry, from what's required for a plan submittal or a work permit, to helping them get their inspections scheduled, and everything in between," said Blackdeer.

By virtue of the MFD housing the City's Emergency Management program, Blackdeer also assisted the Emergency Management staff team that plans for large-scale emergencies on behalf of the City. It was a role that gave her an unexpected, but exciting, front row seat to the City's response to a number of significant events.
Ann Blackdeer with Fire Prevention Division staff
Blackdeer with members of the Fire Prevention Division

"I never thought when I interviewed for my first job with the City that I would be in an EOC," Blackdeer said, referring to the Emergency Operation Centers that convene to coordinate response and recovery related to a major incident.

As the administrative clerk assigned to the EOC, Blackdeer did everything from make coffee to provide tech support and office supplies as needed. Just as importantly, she ensured critical information was documented and available for reference so those overseeing the emergency had all the information they needed at hand.

"The extreme snow events were really memorable, like the 'Snowmageddon,' and presidential visits were interesting," Blackdeer said. "I would get pulled away from my regular duties and get to be a part of something that was really unique."

For Blackdeer, working among first responders is inspiring and invigorating, and she found that the enthusiasm among her teammates in the front office was contagious.
Ann Blackdeer with Denise DeSerio
Blackdeer with MFD Administrative Assistant Denise DeSerio
"I really feel like everyone comes into this place every day ready to go, and there's a lot of dedication. I really feel that for me that was a great environment to work in. The supportiveness and the relationships are what made it great," she said, adding that there's a place in the fire department for folks like her, who aren't first responders but still want to support the mission.

In retirement, Blackdeer looks forward to spending more quality time with her family, as well as pursuing some of her other passions more deeply. She'll sharpen her gardening skills and hopes to work part-time in a customer service position centered around her passion for baseball and/or beer. But she'll miss her friends at the Madison Fire Department, too.

"I'm so proud to be part of the department. To be able to support first responders has been a great fit for me in my time with the City."
Ann Blackdeer with the MFD Administrative team
Blackdeer with MFD's Administrative Team
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