The Fire Department of New York has appointed Tonya Boyd as its first-ever Black female deputy chief in its 150-year existence.
Boyd, who assumed her new role on Wednesday, initially planned to enter the nursing field. In fact, the emergency medical technician training, which put her on the historic path, was originally a means of paying for nursing school.
She became an EMT 20 years ago. Shortly after that, Rudy Giuliani, New York City’s mayor at the time, merged the city’s EMT department with its fire department.
“I feel like I’ve knocked down a door and opened it for a lot of EMT’s just starting on this job,” Boyd told the New York Daily News.
“The FDNY offered a wonderful program that let us go to school from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” she continued. “I became a paramedic after about seven years.”
From there, she gradually moved up the ranks becoming a lieutenant and later, captain, before her precedent-setting promotion to deputy chief.
“African American women will see someone who looks like them as a deputy chief and they will know more is possible-their careers won’t top out at paramedic or even lieutenant,” Boyd said.