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Bellingham's first female fire captain is a 'professional problem-solver'

Being a firefighter was not on Sarah Pernick's childhood list of aspirations. Before becoming the first female fire captain in Bellingham, she was a self-described "ski bum." Pernick enjoyed the outdoors, worked as a river guide in her 20s and eventually opened a whitewater rafting business with her brother.

Pernick initially got her EMT license to help with her rafting business. There, she was surrounded by aspiring firefighters, volunteers and career firefighters who introduced her to the world of fire.

"I got a lot of mentorship through that," Pernick said.

From there she went from volunteering at South Whatcom Fire Authority to eventually landing a position at Eastside Fire & Rescue. Three years later, she started at Bellingham Fire Department (BFD) in 2017.

Pernick was promoted to fire captain on April 1, 2023.

"I wouldn't necessarily say that promoting was on my mind at that point," Pernick said. "I was just wanting to learn as much as I could and be as proficient as I could. Just be the best firefighter I was capable of being."

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