GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Captain Temeka Brown has just joined a list of firsts in Greensboro’s history. She is the first Black female fire captain in the Greensboro Fire Department.
Brown is not new to the firehouse life. She is the daughter of a former Greensboro battalion fire chief.
“Holidays, birthdays, every Sunday if he was working, I was at the firehouse,” Brown said.
Brown’s childhood days at the firehouse with dad continued into her adulthood when she started working with the Greensboro fire department 10 years ago.
“It’s been great. You know, eight of those years, I was with my dad. So that was by far one of my favorite experiences to that,” Brown said.
When her dad retired two years ago, Brown decided it was time to take her experience to the next level. She was ready to be a fire captain. It seemed like a daunting task at first because it had never been done before in this department.
“That’s definitely no secret that we haven’t had Black female representation in these higher positions. I did know that. It did put a little pressure on me, but I was excited because it’s bigger than me. This whole thing is much bigger than me,” Brown said.
It ended up being well worth the risk in the end. Brown earned the role of captain, making history in the process.
“I immediately call my dad, and I’m like we did it!” Brown said. “It was exciting. I was overwhelmed. I was shocked but not shocked. It was probably one of the best memories I’ve had.”
All of this was happening for her at the same time she had just taken on another new role: motherhood, a title that will long out last captain.
“I had a little girl so this was even more important for me,” she said. “It takes on a whole other level of symbolism for me because it is an example for her that it doesn’t matter what boundaries you come up against, it doesn’t matter what ceiling you think may be there, it doesn’t matter what anybody says. All that matters is your determination and your fight and how much you want it. As long as you want it bad enough, the sky’s the limit.”
Just as her father was a role model for her, Captain Brown wants to be the same for her baby girl and serve as positive representation for other Black children in her community.
“Anytime you go to a school or a career day, they’re so excited,” Brown said. “They’re excited to see the truck. They’re excited to see the sirens and the lights and that type of thing. But if a truck shows up and there’s no one on the truck that looks like them, it’s kind of like, ‘Well, that might be too high for me. Maybe that’s not something that I’m capable of doing.’ And that’s not something I want for these kids to grow up thinking, especially being a woman. You don’t see that often. And so being a Black woman stepping off of a fire truck and going to these career days, I think it’s very important for them to see ‘It’s not too high. I can definitely do that,'” Brown said.
Brown says this is only the beginning for her with the Greensboro Fire Department. Now that she has a little girl of her own she says she wants to continue to show her that she can do anything.
“There’s always room to grow. Yes, it’s 2023, and we’re still saying first, but that’s OK,” Brown said. “At least it’s happening, and we’re shining light on that and making it a bigger deal, because it is a big deal. And I think it’s important for especially the younger generations to see that this didn’t happen in the 60s. This happened in 2023. I made history. So can you.”