Linden firefighter becomes department’s first black lieutenant

Lt. Anthony Holland

LINDEN, NJ — During the first eight months of 2020, New Jersey has gone through many changes. Even though change is unpredictable, it doesn’t always produce bad results. Some changes are positive. Such a change has happened in Linden, where the city’s youth have a new role model who has made municipal history.

Linden firefighter Anthony Holland has achieved a milestone like no other. For the first time in its 104-year history, the Linden Fire Department has promoted a black firefighter to the rank of lieutenant. The ceremony was held Wednesday, July 29, at Linden Fire Headquarters, with Holland’s family, city officials and LFD employees in attendance.

Holland, a seven-year veteran of the department who has ranked an impressive No. 5 on the state of New Jersey Civil Service Commission’s list of fire lieutenants for the city of Linden, described what first sparked his interest in becoming a firefighter.

“I started working for the Linden Fire Department in March of 2013,” Holland told Union County LocalSource on Aug. 2. “I’ve always wanted to help people. Before becoming a fireman, I was majoring in biology and looking to become a physician assistant. While in school, I took the civil service exam to become a fireman and scored No. 11 on the list for the entry level exam.”

The role of firefighter is not easy and Holland can attest to that. Nevertheless, Holland has always been focused on the call of duty.

“During my tenure as a firefighter, I have been involved in some unfortunate circumstances, none that I would like to discuss,” Holland said. “But when I am faced with the call of duty, I always serve to the best of my ability.”

Though the job of firefighter is both dangerous and difficult at times, Holland’s two daughters keep him motivated.

“My parents, my wife and friends have supported me in this journey thus far,” Holland said. “But my two daughters have been a motivating factor. The support of my family has allowed me to focus on my studies and professional career.”

Thankful for his ties with the city of Linden, Holland reflected on his historical milestone.

“It has been 104 years since an African American has held an officer position,” Holland said. “My family has been in Linden for a long time. My grandparents came to Linden from Potters Crossing as a result of a fire that occurred during the 1950s in their home. They then settled in Linden and we have been here ever since.”
Furthermore, Holland is ready to lead.

“I’m excited and eager to lead — also, to be a role model and inspiration for my community,” Holland said.

Linden Mayor Derek Armstead said he couldn’t think of anyone better to obtain such a position.

“This is truly an exceptional achievement for Anthony,” Armstead said on Aug. 1. “Once again, we continue to make history in the city of Linden. Anthony is an exceptional young man who goes above and beyond the call of duty. He is a product of our community. He worked hard to become a fireman and, in his short time of seven years, he has realized this goal. I am sure there is more to come.

“He is an example for all of our young men to follow,” Armstead continued. “He is the right man for the job at the right time in our ever-changing diverse city and I am so proud of him.”

The July 29 ceremony outside the department’s headquarters followed coronavirus safety measures by supplying each family with its own tent. Social distancing measures were safely followed, and guests wore masks.

Also promoted during the ceremony were Steven Cuco, who was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and Michael Cassidy, who was promoted from lieutenant to captain.