Tuesday declared ‘Lorraine Hutchinson Day’ to honor San Diego firefighter and breast cancer survivor

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Tuesday was declared Lorraine Hutchinson Day in San Diego in honor of the trailblazing firefighter and breast cancer survivor.

Hutchinson, who is retiring as a deputy chief after a 25-year career with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, was the first African American woman to be promoted to engineer, captain, battalion chief and her current position.

She served as the SDFRD’s health and wellness officer, emergency medical services coordinator and head of logistics and held various leadership positions.

Hutchinson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 after a mammogram revealed she had the disease. Now, she speaks out about early detection.

She received honors from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which sponsors local events to raise money to fight breast cancer.

“I feel that when I stumbled on this career 25 years ago, I hit the lottery,” Hutchinson told the council. “Not in terms of monetary value, though, in terms of finding the career that I am so suited for, and love.”

Hutchinson, 50, was working as a medical assistant when her friend suggested she try to join the fire department.

She said her minority status didn’t matter because the department leaders recognized her potential.

She said a merit-based promotion system instituted by former Chief Jeff Bowman resulted in her scoring the highest on the battalion chief’s examination.

I was finally able to show anyone who had any doubt about me that I deserved to be here,” Hutchinson said.

Bowman’s successor, Tracy Jarman, promoted her to deputy chief.

Hutchinson said the support of the SDFRD rank-and-file was “directly responsible” for her breast cancer survival.

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