NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – The New Haven Fire Department held a promotion ceremony Wednesday night. Among those recognized was a firefighter who survived a deadly fire in 2021. 

Lt. Samod Rankins was promoted to captain. Rankins was seriously injured while responding to a fire two years ago. His fellow firefighter Ricardo Torres Jr. died. After a long recovery, Rankins returned to work in May.

At a Hill Regional Career High School promotion ceremony, 18 firefighters were promoted. Rankins was promoted to fire captain. 

“I’m extremely grateful, thankful and blessed for this promotion here tonight,” Rankins said. “I’m so thankful for the fire department and everyone in the entire community who has always been supporting me.”

Rankins filed a civil lawsuit against the city and the board of fire commissioners in March. The suit claimed Rankins was passed over for a promotion to captain and wasn’t allowed back to work despite being medically cleared. It also alleges Rankins was retaliated against for filing for workers’ compensation benefits and for his prior lawsuits against the city’s promotional and hiring practices.

After the ceremony, Rankins did not address the case. The mayor said a lawsuit is still pending. A revised complaint with those same claims was filed on Aug. 4.