City of Fairfax welcoming first African American fire officer


FAIRFAX, Va. (WDVM) — Walter English is joining the City of Fairfax’s fire team as the city’s first Black fire officer.

Corey Smedley, the first Black fire chief in the City of Alexandria, pinned English during the ceremony.

“So Walter quite often will say that I’m his mentor, it’s funny that he feels that way because I actually learn a lot from Walter,” said Smedley.

For English, giving back to the community was his passion, so he followed his dreams of becoming a first responder.

“I do wish that I could do more, which is one of the reasons that I went to the office of emergency management,” said English. “Riding firetrucks, you get to get to help one person on a call. For the office of emergency management, I’m responsible for all the citizens and residents in the City of Fairfax.”

English says he wanted to give back to the community he grew up in and to provide a foundation for future generations.

“I just recently graduated college, I grew up here in northern Virginia, and I wanted to come back to that area where I grew up so that I could make a difference and hopefully one day be a mentor to younger black children,” said English.

He works about 14 months in a year but is still grateful to get to work everyday.

“Every day I wake up and I get to come to work I’m always humbled that I get this opportunity,” said English.

English talked about how his promotion and ceremony made him feel.

“I’m very excited for this part of history,” said English. “I don’t really look at it as me being the first African American promoted to the rank of lieutenant. I just look at it as I was the right person for the right job. One day, the next time a person is promoted, it won’t be that he’s the second African American it will just be you know it’s normal.”

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