Mom on the move: Meet the mom who’s an assistant fire chief and Ironman competitor

Her career is physically demanding, but her hobby is even more so. Houston Fire Department’s Assistant Chief of Human Resources, Michelle Bentley has had a long career in HFD, but she also competes in triathlons and is raising two girls.

“Probably from the age of 8, I knew that I wanted to be a Houston firefighter,” she said.

Assistant Chief Bentley has done that, and then some. Her career experience includes a long and varied list of positions.

“I’ve been a paramedic in the department. I’ve been a firefighter EMT. I drove both an ambulance and an engine at one time, and I promoted into our Arson Division.”

In addition, Bentley has worked as a District Chief in the Special Events Division, working on Homeland Security issues and serving as an Incident Commander during the Super Bowl.

We caught up with her at the HFD training facility. Bentley is in a leadership position now, but her own days in firefighter training date back to the year 2000. She gave birth to daughter, Sasha five years later, and Nadya was close behind. It left her in need of getting back into shape for the demanding work of firefighting.

“I did a sprint race out in Sugar Land, and I loved it. I started racing more and realized I’m not so bad at this,” said Bentley, and now her favorite distance is the full Ironman.

A full Ironman is a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and 26. 2-mile run.

The training alone takes long hours so she includes her girls.

“It’s great stress relief for me,” she said. “Being a mom, and working for the fire department, that gives me a healthy outlet.”

Bentley trains at 3 a.m. when necessary, has training equipment at home, and limits herself to one major race a year. When the schedule becomes overwhelming, she returns to what she calls her “priority check list.”

“For me, that’s my faith and relationship with God, my family, my work, and then my sport.”

It’s her way of keeping life in balance.

“If I ever do my priority check, and I see things are out of whack, well then I look back to my priorities. Even though I love the sport, right now, it’s number 4 on the list.”

Her goal is to qualify for the Ironman in Hawaii.

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