First African American female division chief for Lafayette Fire Department makes history

Lafayette Parish

LAFAYETTE, La (KLFY) — The Lafayette Fire Department has announced its new Chief of Communications, according to a press release.

Chief Antoinette Gerald will serve as the fire department’s new Chief of Communications, making her the first African American female division chief.

The previous Chief of Communications was placed on administrative leave last week after facing a sexual harassment complaint.

Chief Gerald has served the fire department for 23 years, including her service as second-in-command in the communications division, which is responsible for overseeing fire dispatch for the City of Lafayette and surrounding municipalities in Lafayette Parish.

Chief 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 for almost eight years as a firefighter. 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,” Fire 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.”

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