East Bay Regional Park District officials have removed the interim tag off Aileen Theile's title, promoting her to become the district's permanent fire chief.
Theile, who served as acting fire chief since March, oversees all fire protection, fire prevention and firefighting activities for the district, which includes 73 regional parks on over 121,000 acres of open space in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
"I am honored to be appointed fire chief," Theile said last week. "I look forward to continuing the district's significant efforts in wildfire protection and wildfire response. Planning and protecting against wildfires is a major focus of the park district's."
EBRPD leaders lauded Theile for her extensive experience in wildland fire management, which they say will be vital for the district given conditions seen throughout the state.
"Chief Theile's extensive experience with wildfire hazard reduction will be a major asset for the park district," General Manager Robert Doyle said in a statement.
"Chief Theile is an experienced wildland firefighter and fuels management expert. Her on-the-ground experience in statewide fires provides a precise and powerful perspective on what is needed to protect the residents and environment of the East Bay," said Anthony Ciaburro, EBRPD police chief and assistant general manager of public safety.
"Above all, she is a strong leader in an era of unprecedented challenges," Ciaburro added.
A Livermore native who now lives in Martinez, Theile started working for EBRPD as a park ranger at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area in Pleasanton in 1994. She went to to be stationed at several other East Bay parks, including Sunol Regional Wilderness, Garin Regional Park and Cull Canyon Regional Recreation Area.
In 2002, she was promoted to resource analyst for the district's Stewardship Department.
During her tenure, Theile also focused on firefighting by joining the EBRPD Fire Department on special assignment as an industrial firefighter in 1995, pulling double duty within the district for years including as an industrial lieutenant firefighter after 2005.
She earned her first permanent assignment in the Fire Department in 2012 as a fire captain, a position she held until being named acting fire chief earlier this year.
Theile, who is cited as an expert in fire fuels management and fire behavior, has been part of the district's prescribed fire program to prevent catastrophic damage from wildfire on its lands and surrounding communities. She has also led many cross-discipline teams -- internal and external -- where she has developed a reputation as a leader who fosters professionalism and collaboration.
Theile's department includes 68 full- and part-time on-call firefighters and nine fire stations. It manages fire protection and fire hazard reduction, including thinning and reducing hazardous vegetation on over 1,000 acres per year.
She attended Cal State East Bay, where she earned a bachelor's degree in environmental science with an emphasis in biology and ecology. She also holds a fire officer certification from the California State Fire Marshal's Office and has completed coursework for a chief fire officer certification.