Position: Assistant Chief, Division 3
Biography: 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 17 years, working her way up through each of the ranks from Hotshot Crew Firefighter to Engine Captain, concluding her forest service career as an Interim Battalion Chief position serving 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 4 (South Desert region). She promoted to Assistant Chief in 2013, overseeing Division 3 (Mountain region). In March of 2019, Chief Opliger took on the interim Deputy Chief of Operations role for 15 months.
For more than a decade, Chief Opliger participated on both Type 1 and 2 Incident Management Teams (IMT) 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 serves as the Incident Commander of the department’s IMT. Under her command, the IMT led the County’s region-wide Covid-19 response; representing 25 Fire & EMS agencies to ensure uninterrupted fire and EMS service delivery county-wide.
Chief Opliger lives in Yucaipa with her husband Rocky and their three Labradors. Kathleen and Rocky have two grown children, Brandon, who is a firefighter with the Orange County Fire Authority and Erin, who serves the department as our GIS Specialist. Kathleen & Rocky enjoy spending time on their fishing boat out of Mission Bay, and in Lake Havasu City boating, water skiing, and fishing.