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Howard County Fire & Rescue Services promotes first Black woman to Chief Officer

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Posted at 3:33 PM, Mar 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-06 18:27:19-05

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) held a pinning ceremony for Battalion Chief/Paramedic Cerisa Speight for becoming Howard County’s first Black woman chief officer.

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball attended the ceremony to recognize Battalion Chief/Paramedic Speight for her dedication to the department.

“For more than a decade, Battalion Chief/Paramedic Speight has been a stand-out in our Department of Fire and Rescue Services,” said Ball. “Her recent rise to Battalion Chief is a testament to her incredible work and leadership in the department and we’re hopeful that her success will continue to inspire many more to follow in her footsteps.”

Battalion Chief/Paramedic Speight has served with Howard County since 2009. As a rising star within the department, she furthered her education and training to become a member of the Special Operations Team, a Battalion Chief Aide, and an On-Call Public Information Officer before being promoted to Lieutenant.

She again rose up the ranks and was promoted to Captain while achieving her Bachelor’s in business administration and is currently working on her MBA. Speight has completed the Northern Virginia Fire and Rescue Leadership Development Institute and is currently in the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute. She has traveled to New Zealand as a presenter at the Women and Firefighting Australasia (WAFA) conference speaking on fire leadership and career development as well as the International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Service (iWomen) conference.

Battalion Chief/Paramedic Speight serves as President of the HCDFRS St. Florian’s Brigade, an affinity group for women in the fire service and is a member of the HCDFRS Phoenix Sentinels, an affinity group for Black firefighters. Speight serves on multiple fire and EMS committees within the department and is a new member of the Maryland Incident Management Team.

“It has been a privilege to watch Battalion Chief/Paramedic Speight grow within our department,” said Fire Chief William Anuszewski. “Her commitment to both Howard County and the department exemplifies honor and service, a true model for others to follow. There are no glass ceilings that can contain her future.”