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Lafayette Fire division chief makes history

Posted at 3:18 PM, May 17, 2021

The Lafayette Fire Department has announced the promotion of its first African American female division chief, Chief Antoinette Gerald.

Chief Gerald will take over the Communications Division after 23 years of service. She previously served as the second-in-command of the same division, which is responsible for overseeing fire dispatch for the City of Lafayette and surrounding municipalities in Lafayette Parish.

Chief Antoinette Gerald joined the fire department in 1997. She was one of four females in her recruit class of a total of 15 firefighters. Only one other female in her class is still employed with the department. Prior to entering the Communications Division, she worked almost eight years as a firefighter responding to emergency incidents. In her new supervisory role, she’ll lead a team of 11 dispatchers ensuring prompt response for career and volunteer firefighters throughout the parish.

“It’s a humbling experience. I’m excited about the next phase of my career in the fire service and look forward to continue serving,” Chief Gerald said.

Lafayette Fire Chief Robert Benoit made the announcement this morning to the members of the department.

“This is truly a great day in the city of Lafayette because it speaks to the level playing field that is constantly being transformed in this community, to encourage people of color that there are opportunities to be successful at home among family and friends," Chief Benoit said. "It is with great pleasure that I welcome Antoinette Gerald, Chief of Communications to the command staff of the Fire Department. She’ll bring a different perspective to the decision making in managing the Fire Department.”