BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Another glass ceiling was broken in the Buffalo Fire Department Tuesday morning as Wendy Majtyka-Hartman was promoted to Division Chief of Special Operations.

She’s the first woman to be promoted to the highest rank.

Before Majtyka-Hartman became the first female division chief she was raised by strong parents, one a Buffalo firefighter of 30 years.

“Started from a young age with my mother being an amazing leader and strong woman taught me I could do anything work hard. My father was a Buffalo firefighter, I watched him go to work day in and day out, it was an honest living,” Majtyka-Hartman said.

In 1998, she earned the chance to become a firefighter as well.

She made history in front of colleagues and loved ones Tuesday morning during her promotion ceremony.

Everything I have from my family, my leadership, my friendships along the way, and what I’ve been able to give back to the community is because of this job and this profession.”

While today is a historic day, Majtyka-Hartman said she’s never thought about her job in terms of gender. She’s just worked hard to get where she is today.

“I was glad I was given a chance in 1998, I thank the women of 1980 who were really why I’m here today and I hope women can see this is a family that is literally a family of firefighters, not firemen, not firewomen, but an inclusive group of people that would really give their lives for each other.”

As Division Chief of Special Operations, she said she plans to focus on surface water rescues, mass casualty response, and continue training for technical rescue.

Fire chief William Renaldo said Majtyka-Hartman is a great leader because she not only made it to the top, but she also helped others get there with her.

“She’s firm but fair, that comes from the inside. She knows her job, she knows what she has to project, she knows it’s a tough, dirty, dangerous job and she has to convey that to folks around her who are under her but at the same time she’s earned their respect,” Renaldo said.

She said she encourages any woman out there who wants to pursue a career in firefighting to take the leap of faith.

“It’ll be the best decision you ever make.”

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.