For the first time in 18 years, Aimee Murry isn't working a 24-hour shift. She's also not sleeping in a fire house, ready to wake up at a moment's notice and run to a fire or medical emergency.
That's going to be one of the bigger adjustments for Murry, who on Wednesday was promoted to division chief, one of two positions ranking directly beneath the fire chief.
Though she's the first female in Lodi history to hold such a rank, and went from captain to division chief - bypassing the battalion chief position - Murry doesn't make a big deal out of it.
Rather, she just wants to get down to business in her new job of overseeing operations in the department of 64 employees. The job includes policies and procedures, hiring and firing, disciplining, disaster preparation, planning for new stations and overseeing fire suppression.
"I'm hoping, coming straight from the line working with the guys, I know what the concerns are," she said this week, her last time working a 24-hour shift, known as "the line."
Murry, a third-generation native from Hughson near Modesto, grew up as the youngest of three children on her family's farm. Her plan was to become a nurse or doctor, and she was leaning more toward the doctor field when she started at Modesto Junior College. There she obtained her emergency medical technician's certification and started working for an ambulance company.
Then a friend, who worked for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, suggested that Murry apply for a job there. He thought Murry would like it, and she took to it immediately.
"I always loved camping, so it was just a bigger campfire," she said with a grin.
Murry broke the news to her parents that she'd changed her career plans away from being a doctor. They were a bit disappointed, she said, but never wavered in their support.
Her father, a single red rose in hand, was there to pin on her division chief's badge Wednesday morning. Her mother and sister each pinned on the gold bugles that adorn the white collar of Murry's sleeve.
The bugles symbolize command, Fire Chief Michael Pretz said.
"She has earned the right to command," he told a crowd of about 50 people who gathered to watch the brief ceremony.
Murry was one of half-adozen people who applied for the position, which had been held by Kevin Donnelly, who replaced retired fire marshal Verne Person and is division chief of prevention.
She and several others went through rounds of interviews in front of high-ranking chiefs at other departments ranging from Modesto to Fairfield, Pretz said.
"They were very impressed with her, and I think that speaks very well of people in the whole department, if they impress those outside the department," he said.
At the age of 19, Murry began doing seasonal work with CDF, sometimes spending three weeks at a time at raging forest fires. She spent five years with CDF, the last three in Twain Harte.
In the meantime, she completed her associate's degree in fire science from Columbia College. Then she began applying for full-time positions, and Lodi hired her in February 1996.
She was the first female firefighter in Lodi, so the department had to make a few alterations, like putting a "Women's Locker Room" sign on a door. She's still the only female in the department.
That's not something Murry focuses on, and she doesn't want to be singled out for it. For her, she said, it's far more important to simply be a good example by doing a good job.
Whether she's sent to a house fire or to help lift an elderly person who needs medical attention, she sees all calls as important.
In the past dozen years, Murry has also sat on a number of committees at the department, including safety, labor negotiations and fund-raisers.
"Go bigger or go home - that's my motto. In this field, you've got to give 100 percent," she said.
And she does: On her days off she's often doing some sort of outdoors activity, whether it's camping or skiing. She likes to hunt and recently shot her first elk in Idaho, a photo of which is the background on her cell phone.
Her next challenge is adjusting to working business hours and no longer dashing to a fire engine at a moment's notice. It's not something she will forget, she told her fellow firefighters Wednesday.
"I won't let you guys down, and believe me, I won't forget where I came from," she said. "If I do, give me a swift kick."