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Outgoing Vaughan fire chief makes more history as first woman in role in Mississauga

Deryn Rizzi, former Vaughan fire chief, has just been named Mississauga fire's chief
Jan. 20, 2021
Jeremy Grimaldi

Deryn Rizzi broke barriers in Vaughan in 2018 when she was became the first woman fire chief in Ontario.

Now, she's breaking even more, becoming the first woman fill the role in Mississauga on a permanent basis.

Replacing Tim Beckett, who retired last year, Rizzi will take over at the helm Feb. 2.

“I extend my sincerest congratulations to Chief Deryn Rizzi as she embarks on a new professional opportunity," wrote mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua in an email. "We take great pride in her unwavering dedication to serve our community and especially during this global COVID-19 pandemic. Vaughan’s firefighters are an impressive team. They are some of the bravest and brightest in our country. These courageous individuals will continue to keep people, neighbourhoods and our entire community safe and out of harm’s way.”

Although she did not respond to's calls for comments about her new job, Rizzi did Tweet out a comment saying how proud she is to serve.

"I am honoured for the opportunity to serve @MississaugaFES, and will proudly join their efforts to ensure fire and life safety of the City of Mississauga," she wrote.

Rizzi, who has more than 20 years experience in the job and took over from former Vaughan Fire Chief Larry Bentley, did suffer at least one controversy while in her job in Vaughan.

In 2019, Vaughan fire refused to send crews back to a scene where a woman jumped off a bridge and onto Hwy. 400.

The delay in response to wash down the highway caused excess traffic and delays and resulted in contracted workers having to wash the highway.

At the time, Rizzi said the need to open the highway had to be balanced with the mental health of her firefighters.
"We understand the pressures of getting the highway open as soon as possible, but it needs to be tempered with humanizing and ethical decision-making processes," she said at the time.

Some observers deemed it selfish, resulting in untrained civilians having to do the work of trained firefighters, while others celebrated the move, which they deemed in keeping with positive mental health protocols among staff who are vulnerable and at risk to PTSD.

"Beyond her work in fire halls, Chief Rizzi is a trusted, respected and sought-after thought leader, committed to mentoring and educating about proven and emerging best practices on emergency preparedness and response," Shari Lichterman, commissioner of community services for Mississauga, said. "We are proud to welcome her as Mississauga’s first permanent female Fire Chief."

Councillor Marilyn Iafrate said Rizzi desparture a loss for the city.

"She's going to be hugely missed as she was superb in her role as chief," she wrote. "Our loss, Mississauga's gain, tenfold."