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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Canton, Ohio Swears in First Ever African American Fire Chief

Akbar Bennett, first Fire Chief of Canton Ohio

Nationwide — The Canton Fire Department in Ohio has made history by hiring its first-ever African American fire chief for the first time in 200 years. Akbar Bennett was recently promoted as its first-ever African-American fire chief.

Bennett, who is now 50-years old, has been with the Canton Fire Department for 29 years. He was a former combat medic with the Army National Guard before he joined the department in 1993. He served with his two brothers, becoming the first family to have done so.

When he first took the exam to become a captain, he failed. But he did not give up and he continued working harder until he eventually became battalion chief and then division chief in 2015.

“I was the first black battalion chief, I was the first black assistant chief and so I happen to be the first black chief also,” Bennett told Fox 8 News. “There’s a lot of firsts, don’t get me wrong, but the key is not to be the last and by that, I mean the key is to do a great job and so it’s not even an issue anymore.”

Bennett has served as the interim fire chief for a few months since Chief Tomas Garra retired on March 2. He was officially sworn in on April 26 and he plans to keep up the department’s operations, making it more inclusive than ever.