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Latino Firefighter Promoted to Second-in-Command
By Kevin Milliken, Special to La Prensa


The top two of the top brass at the Toledo Fire Dept. are now Latino, as Assistant Chief Phil Cervantes is now second-in-command to Toledo Fire Chief Luis Santiago. The unprecedented promotion was supposed to occur at a ceremony last Friday, July 15, 2011. However, Cervantes was out of town and unable to attend.


Santiago indicated Cervantes already has assumed his duties, and his pinning ceremony will take place next month at an official promotion event for fire lieutenants and captains. Cervantes will oversee fire prevention and internal affairs. The new assistant fire chief already had headed the Fire Prevention Bureau prior to his promotion. He first joined the fire dept. in May, 1984.


Cervantes owes the start of his Toledo Fire Dept. career to his firefighting uncle, who encouraged him to apply. The younger Cervantes always has seemed to follow in his uncle’s footsteps as a second-generation firefighter, but now has surpassed the now-retired senior Cervantes in rank.


The elder Cervantes became the first Latino firefighter hired in Toledo back in 1975, when he transferred from the police dept. His parents were among the first Mexican-American immigrants to settle in Toledo.


The younger Cervantes was named one of Toledo’s “20 under 40” in 2001, a class that also featured local Latinos Robert Torres and Mark Urrutia. For the last 15 years, 20 under 40 has recognized Toledo area leaders under the age of 40 who have been influential in the region.


In addition to Cervantes, the promotion ceremony was to include two new deputy chiefs and three new battalion chiefs. The upper ranks of the fire dept. have seen a number of retirements in the past year, setting the stage for several promotions.



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Revised: 07/19/11 17:16:05 -0700.





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