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First Woman Tapped as Bethlehem Fire Chief Withdraws Name

Jacqueline Lilley-McCammon, the city's first woman firefighter, will retire instead.

Jacqueline Lilley-McCammon Credit: Patch File Photo
Jacqueline Lilley-McCammon Credit: Patch File Photo

By Daryl Nerl

Jacqueline Lilley-McCammon, the first woman to be nominated to be Bethlehem Fire Chief, has withdrawn her name from consideration for the job, citing “personal reasons.”

Mayor-elect Bob Donchez said that Acting Chief Robert Novatnack would remain the city’s top firefighter until he can make a decision about who he wants the next chief to be.

Donchez declined to comment on the reasons for Lilley-McCammon’s decision. He did release a two-sentence memo that Lilley-McCammon sent to him on Monday indicating her desire to not accept the job.

Lilley-McCammon, who was also the first woman firefighter in city history as well as the first woman to rise to the ranks of captain and assistant fire chief, has decided instead to retire, according to The Morning Call.

A possible cut in her salary, despite the promotion, was one reason why she decided to walk away, according to the newspaper.

For most of the more than 24 years Lilley-McCammon was a city firefighter, she was the only woman in the department.

Mary Alice Maguire, daughter of former Fire Chief George Barkanic, became the city’s second woman firefighter in the summer, the same week Lilley-McCammon was promoted to assistant fire chief by Mayor John Callahan.

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