District of Columbia Fire and EMS Chief John A. Donnelly, announces the promotion of Queen Anunay as the first woman in department history to the position of uniformed Assistant Fire Chief on March 29. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)
District of Columbia Fire and EMS Chief John A. Donnelly, announces the promotion of Queen Anunay as the first woman in department history to the position of uniformed Assistant Fire Chief on March 29. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)

D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Chief John Donnelly announced Tuesday that Queen Anunay’s promotion as the first woman in the history of the department to become assistant fire chief.

“The Fire Service can be like a slow-moving train when it comes to changing culture,” Donnelly said in a statement. “At DC Fire and EMS, we are always working to diversify our ranks ensuring this is a place for all, no matter one’s gender, background, race, religion, or sexual orientation. But make no mistake: I made this decision entirely on the fact that she was the best person for the job.”

Donnelly said Anunay, as the leader of the EMS bureau, will continue “to professionalize and surpass our residents’ expectations of urgent, compassionate, and expert medical care.”

“Promoting her was an easy decision for one of our toughest jobs,” Donnelly said.

Anunay, a District native who graduated from Eastern Senior High School in Northeast, started her career with the fire department with Cadet Class 6 in 1991.

Anunay has 31 years of service, with the first 15 spent in fire operations before going back to school to become a paramedic. She had worked as an EMS supervisor, fire captain and battalion fire chief in operations and the fire prevention division before she was promoted to deputy fire chief of EMS in 2020.

Until Anunay’s promotion, deputy fire chief was the highest rank a female officer had attained in the department.

“Being the assistant chief of EMS is a tremendous responsibility,” Anunay said. “When you get to lead from the assistant position, it’s huge because there’s only one person above you and that’s the fire chief. I can talk directly to Chief Donnelly. It’s very humbling. It opens doors for women to reach beyond the captain or battalion chief. It sets a mark in the community that hasn’t been reached yet within this agency.”

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