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Prominent women react to naming of Toledo's next fire chief

WTOL 11 spoke to well-known Toledoans and organizations about the significance of Allison Armstrong's promotion to lead the Toledo Fire & Rescue Department.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said this week's naming of Allison Armstrong as Toledo Fire Chief went beyond gender. 

But, for generations of women in Toledo, the promotion spoke volumes - and is rooted in history. In fact, Armstrong may not know it, but she owes a debt of gratitude to former Toledo mayor, Donna Owens. 

Back in the mid-1980s, when Owens became Toledo's first female mayor, she fought to have women as firefighters. And decades later, another glass ceiling has been broken.

"No, you can't ignore it because it's an accomplishment a long time coming," said Owens. "Women weren't looked at to be in positions like that - they thought of it as all male."

The news of the promotion spoke to a younger generation as well. Toledo Public Schools' Ella P. Stewart Academy for Girls strives to empower its students to know there are no limits to what they can do. And, administrators say with history like this in our town there is a definite teaching moment.

"Anytime we see a woman reach high achievement levels - such as this fire chief - we make sure the girls are aware they know her name, they see her face," says Ella P Stewart Academy counselor Shannon Carter. "It allows them to relate to her and to see that that is achievable to them as well. It's not just a dream - but it's something that can be achieved."

Speaking of breaking through ceilings, Toledo's own Marcy Kaptur is the longest-serving Congresswoman in the United States House of Representatives. She was also ecstatic with the news affecting her hometown.

"For more than 20 years, Allison Armstrong has dutifully served the Toledo Fire Department and the people of our great city," Kaptur said. "Now, she is breaking the largest and highest glass ceiling of them all as our new chief."

Armstrong will officially be sworn in as the new fire chief on Feb. 4.

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