Joel Baker has made history as Austin, Texas' first Black fire department chief, Spectrum News reports.
Baker, a former Marine, comes to the department with 30 years of experience under his belt. He is originally from Atlanta, where he began his career in 1986. He served in Atlanta's Fire-Rescue Department, where he eventually was promoted to chief, according to FOX 7. Baker’s first day as leader of the Austin Fire Department was Monday.
In his new position, Baker plans to make diversifying the department a priority.
“When you want to recruit African Americans, you send African Americans," Baker said. "When you want to recruit women, you send women. When you want to recruit members of the LGBT community, you send those members.”
The new chief also said he wants to make sure every community has a firehouse for its protection, and his experience expanding Atlanta's fire department will come in handy in doing so.
“Some of the things that took place in Atlanta is going on here with the growth of the city. Atlanta is growing rapidly. So this is a perfect fit. It really is a perfect fit for me to be here,” Baker said.
Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk praised Baker ahead of his first day, KVUE reports.
"Chief Baker's dedication to public service, vast experience and demonstrated leadership in Atlanta are all reasons I am proud to have him lead our fire department to keep our residents and community safe," Cronk said.
Congratulations to Baker for the history-making move.
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