WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — All Derek Chapman wanted in life was to be a Fire Marshal.

Chapman, Maryland’s first Black Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal in history, said that not even members of his own family who were in law enforcement knew what the job entailed.

His dream, he said, has been shattered due to the pervasive racism and discrimination against him by his White superiors in the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM), an agency of the Maryland State Police.

After experiencing decades of discrimination, Chapman has decided to file a lawsuit against the department.

“The job’s a childhood dream,” he said in an interview on Wednesday. “I think the main focus on the pain of this is the department not listening to me. I’m talking, but they’re not hearing me.”

He first filed the lawsuit in federal court in February but decided earlier this month to proceed. Chapman has alleged “bullying, harassment and adverse retaliatory actions,” according to court documents.

“In order to fix a problem, you have to admit you have one,” Chapman said. “There’s nothing I can do but go through the proper channels and file lawsuits and this type of reaction and speak up for myself.”

Maryland State Police officials, which oversee the OSFM, have not commented on the lawsuit. State lawyers tried to get the case dismissed earlier this year but were unsuccessful.

In 2018, Chapman became the state’s highest-ranking Black man in the agency when he was named deputy chief.

Throughout his career, he has experienced slights leveled at him. These comments worsened, he said, when he was promoted to his historic post.

Chapman, who held a news conference with his lead attorney Dionna Maria Lewis of the District Legal Group in D.C., said one White firefighter told his training officer “I see you got your monkey behind you” when he joined the department nearly 25 years ago.

After he was named a deputy chief, a high-ranking official compared black labs to Black people after Chapman tried to get someone recognized for Black History Month.

Chapman said he was also unfairly blamed for backlogged cases, which said is due to a lack of resources and staff. In fact, he said he took pride in “closing” a backlog of cases during his tenure.

“I mean, yeah, I’m behind in reports. I’ll take that hit,” Chapman admitted. “But we have to go across the board. Why are we behind in reports? We don’t have the staff. The reporting system needs to be updated.”

Some of the harassment and discrimination came during his battle first with kidney cancer and, more recently, during a major back surgery. Chapman is currently on leave for that surgery.

Chapman said he returns to work next month with the news that the lawsuit is moving forward.

“I’m going to do my job. People will have opinions about you. I will do my job,” he said. “Don’t violate my rights anymore and be respectful.”