Second Black fire commissioner appointed

For the second time in his tenure, Mayor Richard M. Daley has appointed a Black man as commissioner of the city’s fire department.

For the second time in his tenure, Mayor Richard M. Daley has appointed a Black man as commissioner of the city’s fire department.

Daley announced Thursday at a news conference that he was appointing John Brooks, first deputy commissioner for the Chicago Fire Department, as the new commissioner. Brooks replaces Raymond Orozco who is leaving the post to become the executive director for the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications. Orozco replaced Cortez Trotter, the city’s first Black fire commissioner, who resigned from OEMC in 2007 to go work in the private sector. Trotter was fire commissioner from 2004 to 2006. Brooks’ appointment must now be approved by the City Council, which Mayor Daley said he is confident will happen. The mayor also praised Brooks for the work he has done so far with the fire department and said he expects that leadership to continue in his new role. “He is a first-rate leader who will help us continue our efforts to diversify the department so that it more accurately reflects the make up of the city services,” said Mayor Daley. For his part, Brooks, 50, said he wants to ensure Chicagoans, particularly minorities, that the Chicago Fire Department is a good place to work. “I want people to know that employment opportunities exist at the fire department and that I am committed to diversity,” he said. “I plan to network with churches, social groups and community organizations for recruitment.” And when it comes to racism, something the fire department has been plagued with over the last decade, Brooks said that would not be tolerated. “We have a zero tolerance policy for racism. The department conducts diversity training for employees each year, and that is something I plan to continue,” Brooks added. A 29-year veteran of the fire department, Brooks was born and raised in Chicago and worked his way up the ranks to become the first deputy. His duties as first deputy included administrative and budget oversight of several bureaus and divisions within the fire department. He also served as special lecturer on such topics as the fire service and post-Katrina recovery in New Orleans. Brooks has also hosted and lectured visiting department chiefs and attendees on the lessons learned in high-rise firefighting and evacuation as part of the department’s life safety conference in 2007 and 2006. ______ Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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