Fire officials give minorities command posts

September 25, 1998|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore Fire Department added five battalion chiefs yesterday to its complement of high-ranking officers and boosted the number of minorities in command-level positions.

"This is unprecedented," said Lt. Thurman O. Pugh, head of the Vulcan Blazers, a group that represents black firefighters. "This is the most minority promotions we've ever had at one time."

Fire officials said they created the additional battalion chief positions in anticipation of members retiring next month after an incentive program designed to retain veterans expires. They said they anticipate losing five to seven battalion chiefs.

The department has been criticized for the low number of minorities in its command structure. "I take special joy in seeing so many African-Americans getting promoted," Fire Chief Herman Williams Jr. said at the ceremony.

Until yesterday, only one of the 32 battalion chiefs who coordinate firefighting efforts was black. There are now 37 battalion chiefs, four of whom are black.

The department promoted six others -- including three African-Americans -- to the rank of captain. Of the 87 captains, 13 are black. Seven people were promoted to lieutenant. Of the 223 lieutenants, 48 are African-American.

Pub Date: 9/25/98

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