A local firefighter is climbing to the top of her profession and making history in our area.
Tiffanye Wesley is now the first African American woman to become a deputy fire chief in northern Virginia.
Wesley’s son took a video of the moment the Arlington County fire chief called her to tell her she got a big promotion.
She is now deputy fire chief for Arlington County, one of just three in a department of nearly 350 members.
“It still feels surreal!” she tells us. “The support is unbelievable, all over the country.”
She’s the first African American woman to hold this job in northern Virginia. She’s now in charge of recruitment, promotions, discipline, everything related to human resources.
“It’s a heavy lift. It’s a huge learning curve, so I’m in that just trying to figure it all out.”
We first met Wesley almost two years ago when she got her last promotion. She told us then, the physical test was the hardest obstacle for her.
She even challenged Harry Connick to the rigorous firefighter test on his talk show. But during this journey in a male-dominated profession, Wesley never wanted to hide the fact that she is a woman.
“No, I wouldn’t say I’m one of the guys, and quite frankly I don’t want to be considered one of the guys. There are some women who want to be considered just one of the guys, I never wanted to because I think we bring such a unique talent and a unique position to the table.”
Her daughter, also in public safety, is now taking Wesley’s advice.
“A lot of times people will ask what would you say to your younger self, and it just came to me this morning, I do have a younger self, my younger self is my daughter because she’s in the D.C. police department and she just took a promotional exam this week.”
And while we’re talking about her family, Wesley’s husband Eric is also in the fire department. She now outranks him, but he’s her biggest fan.
“When he looked at me and said ‘I knew you could do it,’ it meant the world to me.”
By the way, her husband Eric was just promoted to captain, and she still outranks him!
Wesley says no matter what profession you’re in, it’s all about understanding your value and worth, and after that, the sky’s the limit.