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History Made | First Black female fire chief to serve in New England sworn in

“The goal is not about me. We celebrate me, but this is for every female out there, every female on the line who’s working today.", said Shelly Carter.

HARTFORD, Conn. — History was made in Connecticut Wednesday as state leaders and neighbors gathered in Hartford to celebrate Shelly Carter, the first Black female fire chief to serve any fire department in all of New England.

“The goal is not about me. We celebrate me, but this is for every female out there, every female on the line who’s working today," said Carter, who was sworn in as the Southbury Training School Fire Department Fire Chief under the state's Department of Developmental Services. 

“The role is to protect and serve those individuals that have disabilities on that campus and we are also moving statewide," said Carter.

Carter's major achievement drew several rounds of cheers and applause at the ceremony.

"Chief Carter, it's got a ring to it," said Gov. Ned Lamont. 

“She’s a daughter, a mother. She’s a wife. She’s a mentor, a student and a teacher, and today, fire chief," said Retired Hartford Fire Chief Edward Casares.

Carter was most recently the Operations and Training Manager for the state's Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. 

Before that, she retired from the City of Hartford's Fire Department after a 21-year-plus career.

“[I] became one of the first two female drivers of an engine in Hartford, rose through the ranks, became a lieutenant in the fire marshal’s office and then became a captain, first captain in operations in the city’s history," said Carter.

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Carter's journey is already paving the way for the next generation. In 2015, she founded the Girls Future Firefighter Camp, a first of its kind in the state giving teenagers the chance to experience a career in public safety first-hand.

“As you may or may not know, in the fire service nationally, there’s only four percent female, so my goal is to empower young ladies to know they can be anything they want to be," said Carter.

Angelo Bavaro is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at abavaro@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.


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