Purifoy-Smoots appointed MFD assistant chief; 1st African American woman

Milwaukee Fire Chief Aaron Lipski on Friday, April 29 formally appointed Deputy Chief Sharon Purifoy-Smoots for the position of assistant chief.

Purifoy-Smoots is now the city's first African American female assistant fire chief and the highest-ranking African American woman across all Wisconsin fire departments.

"I'd like to proudly introduce your new assistant chief for the Milwaukee Fire Department – Sharon Purifoy-Smoots," said Lipski.

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Lipski said he could not have picked a better person for the job. Purifoy-Smoots has served the department for 19 years, rising through the ranks after beginning her career as a firefighter.

"If you would have known me 20-some years ago, firefighting was never in my future, but I have done really well in the career, moved up the ladder," Purifoy-Smoots said.

As she blazes a trail, she is proving people can do anything they set their minds to.

"I’m representing all the little brown girls that look like me, all of the Asian, white, whatever is – we are all in this together, and I’m doing it for all of us," said Purifoy-Smoots.

Sharon Purifoy-Smoots

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said, every day, new barriers are being broken for future generations. 

"You are opening eyes to so many people, so many kids, kids who live in neighbors like this, about the possibilities because they can see their own reflections in you," Johnson said.

Purifoy-Smoots said she would like to increase the number of people of color in the fire department.

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