Trailblazer: American-born Guyanese Tracy Lewis becomes second Black woman promoted to lieutenant at FDNY

Lt. Lewis second Black woman promoted to lieutenant rank in FDNY.
Photo by FDNY

Tracy Lewis, a Brooklyn native of Guyanese descent, made history when she was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, becoming only the second Black female firefighter to attain such a position. Her promotion marked a significant triumph not only for herself but for the diversity and inclusion of women within the New York City Fire Department (FDNY).

Her unwavering work ethic and determination in a field historically dominated by men propelled her beyond her aspirations and the expectations of her family when she ascended to the rank of Lieutenant.

In a recent interview with Caribbean Life, Lieutenant Lewis candidly shared her journey, highlighting the challenges she faced and the obstacles she overcame to reach her current position as Executive Officer to the Fire Commissioner. Despite the hurdles encountered along the way, Lieutenant Lewis remains a fervent advocate for pursuing one’s dreams, particularly for women aspiring to enter traditionally male-dominated fields.

“It makes me feel happy, but there is the part where I didn’t get as far as I wanted because I took other promotional exams and wasn’t as successful. I’m grateful for this opportunity, which comes with a level of responsibility. I also think back and feel as if I didn’t have enough guidance as I needed, but I’m still grateful for the guidance that I did have.”

Before her groundbreaking promotion, Lieutenant Lewis served as a dedicated firefighter at Engine 222 in Brooklyn, where she demonstrated unwavering courage and commitment to serving her community. Her journey in the FDNY began as a Fire Cadet and later as an Emergency Medical Technician, showcasing her versatility and dedication to public service.

Throughout her remarkable career, which spans nearly 24 years, Lieutenant Lewis has forged a trajectory marked by excellence, triumphing over challenges and breaking through barriers with unwavering determination.

Reflecting on her journey, Tracy Lewis articulates her desire to leave behind a legacy of resilience, perseverance, and empowerment. She acknowledged the struggles of women and black people and how they were treated.

“I want to leave things better than I found them, a principle instilled in me by my parents from a young age. This is my mission for the fire department because when I joined, women faced many barriers to success. The landscape has since changed, and I aim to continue fostering an environment where all can thrive…I had alot of unpleasant encounters in this department and it was simply because I am a woman…Thankfully this department has come a long way, they still have to make more work to do but it’s good to see the progress that has been made.”

Lieutenant Lewis was born in Brooklyn but spent the first seven years of her life in Guyana, residing on a farm in Kilterean on the Corentyne in Berbice with her grandparents, before returning to the United States.

Beyond her exemplary service on the frontlines, Lieutenant Lewis is actively involved in various initiatives aimed at recruitment, retention, and youth empowerment within the FDNY. As a longtime member of esteemed organizations such as the FDNY Vulcan Society, FDNY United Women Firefighters (UWF), and the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters (IABPFF), she remains steadfast in her advocacy for diversity and representation within the fire service.

As she continues to blaze trails and inspire future generations, Lieutenant Lewis stands as a shining example of courage, tenacity, and perseverance in the pursuit of one’s passions and aspirations. Her legacy within the FDNY and the broader community serves as a source of inspiration for all who dare to dream and strive for greatness.