First woman fire chief in southwestern Ontario hired in London

London has a new fire chief and she is one of only a handful of women in Canada to hold the job.

Lori Hamer will lead a force that's recently complained of workplace harassment and a 'culture of fear'

London has a new fire chief and she is one of only a handful of women in Canada to hold the job. 

Lori Hamer has acted as leader since the spring, when the chief at the time retired amid allegations of bullying and harassment in the workplace. 

Hamer has been a firefighter for 20 years, first joining the force in Kitchener in a communications role. She moved to London in 2016 to lead the training, communications and special projects division. 

"I look forward to serving our community and the department as fire chief," Hamer said. "Over the past few months, I've spent much of my time talking to our members." 

Vaughan also appoints female chief

A national recruitment process was launched earlier this year and Hamer made it clear from the outset that she was interested.  

She believes she is only the second woman in Ontario to be hired to lead a city fire department. Vaughan just named Deryn Rizzi to the role in June. 

"It's definitely a male dominated role but I hope that other women will follow suit," Hamer said. 

In an interview with CBC London in April, she said she would make it a priority to provide a safe work environment for the city's 405 firefighters.

At the time, a third-party investigator was brought in to examine reports of a "culture of fear" within the fire department.

Dozens of employees came forward, many pointing the finger at the former Chief John Kobarda.

The third-party investigation is continuing.