March 5, 2021

Media Contact: 

Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412 

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Today, Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) held a pinning ceremony for Battalion Chief/Paramedic Cerisa Speight, becoming Howard County’s first Black woman chief officer. Howard County Executive Calvin Ball attended the ceremony to recognize Battalion Chief/Paramedic Speight for her dedication to the department. Photos of the event can be found here.  
“For more than a decade, Battalion Chief/Paramedic Speight has been a stand-out in our Department of Fire and Rescue Services,” said Ball. “Her recent rise to Battalion Chief is a testament to her incredible work and leadership in the department, and we’re hopeful that her success will continue to inspire many more to follow in her footsteps.”    
Battalion Chief/Paramedic Speight has served with Howard County since 2009. As a rising star within the department, she furthered her education and training to become a member of the Special Operations Team, a Battalion Chief Aide, and an On-Call Public Information Officer before being promoted to Lieutenant. She again rose up the ranks and was promoted to Captain while achieving her Bachelor’s in business administration and is currently working on her MBA.  
Speight has completed the Northern Virginia Fire and Rescue Leadership Development Institute and is currently in the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute. She has traveled to New Zealand as a presenter at the Women and Firefighting Australasia (WAFA) conference speaking on fire leadership and career development as well as the International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Service (iWomen) conference. Battalion Chief/Paramedic Speight serves as President of the HCDFRS St. Florian’s Brigade, an affinity group for women in the fire service and is a member of the HCDFRS Phoenix Sentinels, an affinity group for Black firefighters. Speight serves on multiple fire and EMS committees within the department and is a new member of the Maryland Incident Management Team.  
“It has been a privilege to watch Battalion Chief/Paramedic Speight grow within our department,” said Fire Chief William Anuszewski. “Her commitment to both Howard County and the department exemplifies honor and service, a true model for others to follow. There are no glass ceilings that can contain her future.” 
The Ball Administration is committed to advancing qualified leaders throughout Howard County. In December 2018, County Executive Ball appointed Chief Christine Uhlhorn as the first female Fire Chief and in January 2019 appointed Chief Lisa Myers as the first female and first Black Police Chief in Howard County. 

“We are extremely proud of Battalion Chief/Paramedic Speight and expect great things from her in the future,” said Vice President of St. Florian’s Brigade Lieutenant Ashely Weber. “To reach this level of leadership with so much of her career in front of her, she now has time on her side to continue to promote positive change within the fire service.” 


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