New Jersey fire department makes history with 1st black battalion chief

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- The Paterson Fire Department made history during its promotional ceremony on Tuesday.

The department promoted the first African American battalion chief in the city's history, Battalion Chief Lamar Colclough.

It was a moment 204 years in the making. The Paterson native and military veteran of Desert Storm said as a child, he never dreamed of becoming a firefighter, but once he got started, he never looked back.

"I grew up kind of close to a firehouse and it didn't dawn on me at the time to take the job, and that's what's great about it now, now we are out in the communities more," he said.

He was joined by his family, including two sons, and friends as history was being made.

"It feels great, it's a milestone, a lot of people sacrificed prior to me to be here and it's been a long time coming," Colclough said.

Two deputy chiefs, seven captains and three other battalion chiefs were also promoted during the ceremony.

The ceremony was held alongside the police department promotions at the fire headquarters. It was a strong demonstration of the unity of police and fire services in the city.

The police department promoted one captain, six lieutenants and 11 sergeants -- including Sgt. Joseph Ricciardi who celebrated alongside his brother, newly promoted Deputy Chief Andrew Ricciardi.

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