Chicago Fire Dept. gets first Black female deputy commissioner

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Annette Holt

Annette Holt’s appointment is the second high-ranking appointment of a Black official in a department that paid out $100 million in settlements for alleged discrimination in its hiring practices

Crusader staff report

Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Richard T. Ford II on Thursday, November 1, appointed the department’s first Black female deputy commissioner in the city’s history.

Annette Holt, a 28-year veteran of the department is also the first woman to serve in a role that for 160 years has been occupied by a male.

Holt’s appointment came one month after Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Ford as the department’s second Black Fire Department Commissioner after he served 35 years in the department. Both appointments have shaken up the leadership of a department that has historically lacked Blacks throughout its ranks. The department has often been accused of racism and discrimination in its hiring practices, which have cost the city $100 million in settlements in the last several decades.

But the appointment of Holt begins a new era in addressing the lack of high-ranking females in the department. Ford believes that Holt is qualified for the role because of her skills and experience.

“First Deputy Annette Nance-Holt is one of the most efficient officers I have had the pleasure of working with,” Fire Department Commissioner Richard C. Ford told the Sun-Times Thursday. “She is an outstanding tactician and administrator. Her abilities and leadership are respected by both officers and the rank and file.”

Holt joined the department in 1990. She was promoted to lieutenant of the Fire Prevention Bureau in 1993. From 1995 to 2001, Holt served as lieutenant for the Emergency Medical Technician in Fire Suppression & Rescue unit. For the next three years, Holt served as captain of the EMT in Fire Suppression & Rescue team. During that period, Holt served as a federal monitor in the consent decree of the Lewis class-action suit, which led to the hiring of 111 candidate firefighters in 2012.

Holt was promoted to battalion chief EMT in Headquarters Relief in 2014. Two years later, she was promoted to deputy district chief at the 4th District Headquarters. Her new role as first deputy commissioner will pay her $197,736 a year.

Holt is the mother of Blair Holt. The 16-year-old honor student at Julian High School was killed on a CTA bus in 2007 as he tried to shield a friend after a gang member opened fire at a rival gang member on a crowded bus after school. The killer, Michael Pace is serving 75 years in jail.

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