Connecticut Firefighter Becomes First Black Woman to Serve as Department’s Fire Chief

by Xara Aziz
Credit: Facebook via Xavier High School

A New England fire department has just tapped its first Black woman to serve as its fire chief.

Shelly L. Carter began her career at the Hartford Fire Department in an entry-level role and steadily rose the ranks to become its first Black female captain before becoming its fire chief.

“After becoming a captain, I knew that I wanted to be a fire chief, and here we are today,” Carter said before a ceremony that took place to recognize her promotion. “It’s kind of crazy.”

At the ceremony, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz (D-Conn.) said “we know that representation from all backgrounds and perspectives is essential to creating institutions that reflect and value every member of all of our communities.”

Since 2015, Carter has spent her summers leading the future generations of female firefighters after founding the Girls Future Firefighter Camp, which teaches and trains girls to become firefighters.

“In the fire service nationally, there’s only 4% female,” Carter said. “So, my goal is to empower young ladies to know they can be anything they want to be.”

One of the organization’s participants, Calley Thierfelder, attended Carter’s swearing-in ceremony and thanked her for “paving the way for the opportunities that lie ahead of me and for all you have empowered,” the sophomore at New Milford High School said. “Your selflessness and dedication to others is a goal I hope to achieve someday.”

“We celebrate me, but this is for every female out there,” Carter said. “Every female on the line that’s working today. Every female that’s running a department across the country. I am the first Black woman fire chief in New England, but I will not be the last. That is my goal.”

According to a report in WTNH, “the DDS Fire Department is based at the Southbury Training School, but Carter will have statewide responsibilities.”

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