TAMPA BAY, Fla — Despite growing up poor on the east side of Tampa, Barbara Tripp says her mother taught her to always be positive.
"My mother was a very faithful young lady, and she always told us to take the bad and turn it into something good," said Tripp.
It was something Tripp says she was determined to do and is why she joined the military.
"After serving the country I returned and an individual on Emmett Street said, 'Barbara, you should get into the fire service.' I said, 'No it's too hot in Tampa.' Then he started telling me, what we do, how we help people, the hours, I went and signed up the next day and haven’t looked back." said Tripp.
That was nearly 25 years ago and since then Tripp has been recognized countless times for her service and dedication to the city.
On Friday, during a historic ceremony, Tripp was sworn in as Tampa's first-ever female fire chief.
"I feel honored and very privileged to lead the men and women of Tampa Fire, and protecting and serving my community," said Tripp.
"She’s not standing here because she’s an African American female. She’s standing here because she’s going to do the best job at leading this department forward," said Jane Castor, mayor of Tampa.
Tripp says she looks forward to serving the community and being a role model.
"The biggest thing I want them to understand is that they can do anything they put their mind to and to keep pushing. Society has grown and they’re not going to be judged by their color as long as they do the right thing, go to school, and work hard. Hard work pays off," said Tripp.