Position: Assistant Chief, Division 3
Biography: Assistant Chief Kathleen Opliger is responsible for rescue operations, fire and emergency medical response in the Mountain region, an area that covers over 600 square miles of vegetation-covered mountains, foothills, and valleys.
Assistant Chief Opliger’s fire service career began in 1988, when serving as a Paid-Call Firefighter with the Idyllwild Fire Protection District. In 1989, she went to work for the U.S. Forest Service, San Bernardino National Forest, where she served for several years, working her way up through each of the ranks from Hotshot Crew Firefighter to Engine Captain. Opliger temporarily served as a Battalion Chief in both Operations and Training.
In 2005, Chief Opliger came to work for the San Bernardino County Fire Department as a Battalion Chief, serving Division 1 (Valley) and Division 5 (South Desert). For more than a decade, Chief Opliger participated on incident management teams as a division supervisor, operations branch director, and operations section chief. During this assignment, she responded to many large and devastating wildfires and all-risk incidents throughout the U.S. and Canada, most notably to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Chief Opliger lives in Cherry Valley with her husband Rocky and their four Labradors. Kathleen and Rocky have two grown children, Brandon, who is a firefighter on the Palomar Hotshot Crew, and Erin who recently graduated from U.C. Santa Barbara. Kathleen & Rocky enjoy spending time in Lake Havasu City boating, water skiing, and fishing.