PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Nearly one year after being sworn in, Petersburg Fire Chief Tina Watkins is no longer in charge. A City spokesperson confirmed the change of leadership in an email to 8News.

Petersburg Fire Chief Tina Watkins.

Watkins made history last January as the first woman and woman of color to lead the city’s Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services.

It’s unclear if she was forced out or if she resigned on her own; however, the move comes after months of complaints from within her department about staffing shortages and equipment issues.

In September, 8News first reported on the closure of the Johnson Road Fire Station due to staffing shortages. The city claimed the issue was resolved within five hours. However, inside sources tell 8News the station was vacant for 24 hours on Saturday, Sept. 24, and until 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25.

In a council meeting two months later, Petersburg Mayor Sam Parham called the issue unacceptable and said it put his city at a major risk.

“Everybody we have who is certified needs to be in that station,” he said. “Being closed is not an option. You make sure you keep that station open.”

However, nearly two weeks after that statement, the Johnson Road Fire Station was closed again.

The Petersburg Professional Fire Fighters Association (PPFFA) sounded the alarm about the closure on its social media pages with a picture of the firehouse with the bold word “CLOSED.”

According to the City, that specific station needs at least three firefighters to operate.

City Councilman Howard Myers joined in on the concern, raising questions about the fire department’s recruiting. City manager, John Altman, revealed the department was down 22 of its 33 firefighter positions as of November. He also revealed HR had received more than 160 applications within the year.

“That’s appalling,” Myers said. “I’m going to say there’s no excuse that we don’t have what our fire department needs.”

In addition to staffing, there has also been growing concern about equipment issues. In June, 8News reported that the department was operating with a limited number of fire engines, with at least one of the vehicles in its fleet still out of service.

The PPFFA posted on December 15th that the “firefighting apparatus remains broken down or partially functional.”

8News reached out to the City questioning if Watkins is still employed with the department. We have not heard back at the time of this publishing.

Petersburg has named Chris McGann as interim chief.