NJ fire department promotes first African-American officer

Promotional ceremonies aren’t uncommon for the Linden Fire Department in New Jersey, but on Wednesday they held a special one, as Firefighter Anthony Holland became Lieutenant Anthony Holland, the first African-American officer in the department’s 104-year-history.

“I grew up here so to have that spot in history is amazing,” Lt. Holland said. “To be up there and have my daughters in front of me and just showing them that anything is possible.”

The 30-year-old Holland was first hired in March 2013, answering a call to public service that his family says began shortly after high school.

“It’s very sentimental to me, very sentimental,” said Anthony’s wife Gina Holland. “I’ve seen him grow and develop and he deserves this.”

Linden is in Union County and has a population of 42,500 residents. The significance of Holland’s achievement is not lost on city officials, as fire departments across the nation continue to struggle with diversity, particularly in management positions.

“He will be a shining example to many other young African-American men and women in this town who need to look up to a person in positions of authority,” said Derek Armstead, Mayor of Linden.

Also promoted Wednesday were Steven Cuco, who also became a Lieutenant, and Brian Cassidy, who became a Captain. They, along with Lt. Holland make a department with 117 members stronger and even more reflective of the people they’ve sworn to protect.

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