Philadelphia Fire Department promotes first Black female battalion chief in its 149-year history

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Four Philadelphia Fire Department employees were sworn in on Tuesday — among them, 39-year-old Lisa Forrest, the first Black woman to serve as a battalion chief in the department’s 149 years.

Forrest most recently served as captain at Ladder 24 in West Philadelphia, where she also became the first Black female captain.

“I come from a family of strong women, and my family values, I try to bring into the fire department,” she said. “I stand tall, I stand strong — and I’m not going to lie, some days I get beat down, but I come back every day with an even better attitude, and the attitude is to make a difference.”

After being sworn in at the history-making ceremony, Forrest tried on her new uniform.

“It’s not broken into. It still a little bit snug,” she giggled.

Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said the promotion is well deserved.

“She has earned it with her leadership, not just in the field on the streets of Philadelphia, but also with her leadership of club valance, her leadership in the community,” he said. “And frankly, her positive example is one that I know will continue to inspire not just women but will continue to inspire all of us here at the Philadelphia Fire Department and the Office of Emergency Management.”

Thiel encourages women who are interested in exploring careers in the fire department to visit philly.gov/fire.