Lisa Forrest Becomes Philadelphia Fire Department’s First Black Woman Battalion Chief


September 29, 2020

She’s blazing a trail!

The Philadelphia Fire Department promoted the first Black woman battalion chief in its 149-year history, 6ABC reports.

Capt. Lisa Forrest of Ladder 24 in West Philadelphia made history Tuesday morning as the first Black woman in the city to become a battalion fire chief. Forrest has been with the department for 16 years. She initially set out to become a nurse, but enlisted in the army one year into her academic studies at Penn State. She was discharged from the military after sustaining an injury. When she returned home, the fire department was hiring, and she took the job.


“I was going to do five years and leave. Five years and get my degree and leave the fire department, but I guess the joke was on me. So instead of leaving in five years, within five years, I was promoted to lieutenant, and then I just kept going,” Forrest said. 

At just 4 feet 10 inches tall, Forrest never felt intimidated by being one of the only women in a male-dominated space. Her courage and bravery earned her the nickname “Lionheart” in the academy, and she continued to work her way up over the years.

Seven years ago, she was promoted to captain, which she said feels surreal. Moving up the ranks is something she hasn’t yet wrapped her mind around, especially since she never thought her career path would lead to her making history. 


“It kind of feels weird because I’ve been a captain for seven years, so to hear chief — because people have already started [saying it] —  but I’m like no, that’s not me yet. The fire department has been in existence for 149 years… and I’m going to be honest, I didn’t think that I would be the first,” Forrest said. 

A ceremony was held in her honor Tuesday morning and took place outside the Fire Administration Building on Spring Garden Street.

Forest said if she could give any advice to little girls looking up to her, she would tell them, “Anything I’ve ever done in life, I try to be the best and so whatever a little girl is aspiring to be, just be your best,” she said.


Congratulations, Battalion Chief Forrest! 

Photo Courtesy of CBS3

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