The Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District welcomed the fourth fire chief in its history at a swearing-in ceremony for
"All I ever wanted was to be a firefighter," Henke said. "I never dreamed I would be standing here representing such a great agency... the men and women of this fire department are its backbone."
The ceremony, which took place in the theater of Sacramento's St. Francis High School, also served as a promotion ceremony for Sac Metro Fire's command staff. Those promoted Tuesday are Dep. Chief Brian Rice, Dep. Chief Duane Arend, Dep. Chief Mark Wells, Asst. Chief Bill Daniels and Asst. Chief Chris Holbrook.
Assistant chiefs Scott Cockrum and Chris Holbrook could not attend the ceremony; Cockrum, the district's public information officer, has been deployed to the wildfires in Arizona and Holbrook has been called to testify before the U.S. State Department in Washington.
Sac Metro Fire covers the Carmichael, Fair Oaks and Rosemont areas, as well as other parts of Sacramento County and the cities of Citrus Heights and Rancho Cordova. It is a $160 million operation, Henke said.
He thanked the local firefighters union Local 522 for its concessions that he said saved the closure of six to eight engine companies.
"We are in terrible economic times," Henke said. "This is no time to rest or be divided but to serve all our citizens."
Henke replaces former Sac. Metro Fire Chief William Sponable, who retired April 1.
Henke was hired as the deputy chief of operations for the department in October 2009. His professional career began in 1984 as a firefighter/EMT with the Department of the Navy, Skaggs Island Fire Department.
Henke has also worked with the City of Vallejo Fire Department, where he served as a firefighter and captain, among other positions.