Cleveland Fire Departments swears in 1st woman firefighter since 1989

Published: Jan. 12, 2019 at 8:03 AM EST
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Nineteen new firefighters will be on the streets of Cleveland keeping you safe. They were sworn in on Friday by Mayor Frank Jackson.

One of the cadets, Lauren Phillips, is making history. She’s the first woman to be sworn in in 30 years. She described the ceremony as “surreal.”

“It feels awesome. It’s a very cool thing to be the first female in 30 years. It’s something that if I can inspire, motivate women and young girls, that is a total bonus to the job,” said Phillips.

Cleveland Fire Department’s first Battalion Chief, Deberra Schroeder, was just as emotional and excited as Phillips.

“I’ve been fighting for having more women on the department for a very long time,” said Schroeder.

Phillips said she was inspired by her grandfather, who was a Cleveland firefighter for 30 years.

Her husband is also a firefighter in Cleveland. It was more than just a swearing in ceremony for Cadet Justin Leon as well. He too has family members who were firefighters. His late father, Wayne Leon, was a Cleveland Police officer who was killed in the line of duty in June of 2000.

He wore badge number 1338. Now, his son does. Leon said, “I really didn’t know until this morning when they pinned the badge on me so it was a big surprise. It was also really exciting.” His mother, Grace Leon, pinned him. She was smiling from ear to ear. She said, “It means so much that he’s carrying on a legacy.”

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