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Buffalo Fire makes history: first black woman promoted to lieutenant

Buffalo Fire's first black female lieutenant
Posted at 3:04 PM, Feb 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-17 15:04:00-05

BUFFALO, N.Y (WKBW) — The Buffalo Fire Department has been around for more than 125 years, but this months marks the first time it has ever promoted a black female to the position of lieutenant.

Shelby Thompson has been with Buffalo Fire since 2000 when she moved from Arkansas with her 4 children.

She says she took the exam over 6 years ago when she had children going to college and wanted to provide a better life for them.

But it wasn't until a few weeks ago that she got the "call".

"When I got the call - I was in the mall, so I started screaming really loudly," said Thompson. "Once I got on the department I quickly realized I was blessed with this position to be a blessing to somebody else."

We asked whether Thompson knew she would be the first black female.

"Yes and no," she responded.

She says she knew she would be the first, but that wasn't her focus.

On being a female of power in a male-dominated field she said "it's like working with a whole bunch of nagging big brothers."

She says it hasn't set in yet but she is humbled to be in this position and only wishes her oldest son Ralph could be here to see this moment. He died last year.