Mulholland named RFD’s first female Deputy Fire Chief

(ABC 6 News) – Holly Mulholland has been appointed as the Rochester Fire Department’s newest Deputy Fire Chief.

The role became vacant when previous Deputy Chief Vance Swisher accepted the role of Fire Chief in Ankeny, IA. Mulholland has been with RFD for almost 15 years and she is the first woman to serve in the Deputy Chief role. The role 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.

In 2021, Mulholland was promoted to Assistant Chief, having previously held the positions of Firefighter, Motor Operator, Captain, and Battalion Chief. She started the department’s Public Relations Group in 2017 and she continues to lead that team.

Chief Eric Kerska shares, “We are always happy to see members of the RFD team have the opportunity to grow and develop into various roles across the department. 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.”

Mulholland is a canine handler for Minnesota K9 Search Specialists and serves as the team’s Vice President. She trains a live find urban search and rescue canine and has started training a puppy for human remains detection, a role that is largely voluntary. Mulholland has served as an instructor within the department and throughout the state for 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,” shares Mulholland. “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.”

While Mulholland will be the first woman to hold the role, RFD has been working hard to introduce the fire profession to the next generation and 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. Mulholland is an example of someone who switched into the profession and has found tremendous satisfaction in it.

Mulholland was born in Rochester, MN and has lived in the surrounding area her entire life. She graduated from John Marshall High School in 1999 with an almost complete associate’s degree from participating in post-secondary enrollment opportunities. She received an associate’s degree from Rochester Community and Technical College and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

While working full-time Mulholland pursued the firefighting and EMT certifications required for employment with the Rochester Fire Department. She received her Executive Masters of Public Administration from the University of South Dakota in 2020 and is currently participating in the Executive Fire Officer program at the National Fire Academy and the International Association of Fire Chiefs-Fire Service Executive Development Institute. Mulholland and her husband, Joe have been married for almost 20 years and have an 18-year old son, Noah.