When the pager beeps and the fire whistle blows, my heart lurches as I jump into my bunker pants and whip on my turnout coat. My mind races and the adrenaline pumps through my veins. Will I be responding to a structure fire, motor vehicle accident, or an automatic alarm? I love the feeling of the oversized coat swallowing me as the lights flash and the sirens blare down the street.
My dad was in the Deep River Fire Department when I was little. He was captain of the 5-5-3 fire engine and brought me to the fire house all the time. I was fascinated by the trucks and equipment. I watched the Memorial Day parades, my dad driving his truck down the street. He told me I could become a junior in the department when I turned 14. Although I was shy and quiet, I grew more comfortable and confident. I wanted to learn to dress the hydrant, screw the caps, add on the attachments and hose, and open the hydrant. I liked the force and entry drill using a halogen bar and an axe to pop a door open. My favorite training is search and rescue including going on air will the Scott tanks, and blinding ourselves. The men think it is wonderful for a girl to be in the fire department, I set a great example. I like to say, “What boys can do, girls can do better.”
The summer I was 15, I attended the Connecticut Fire Academy for a week for. That week changed me. I became outgoing and social because I was in a place with people who had the same interest as I did. I also got the opportunity to operate the ladder truck. Two years later, I was specially selected to be part of the first ever Advanced Cadet Program at the academy. In my town’s department, I have made a huge impact. I am the first junior female president in the Deep River Fire Department. I received the Junior Fire Fighter of the Year in 2009 and received Junior Top Responder in 2010. Fire fighting is my family history and it runs in my blood.
Being part of the fire department has made me a leader. I can take control. The juniors in the Deep River Fire Department have raised $1,300 of fundraising under my command. I can teach people with a power I never knew I had. I do not expect myself to choose the profession of a career fire fighter. My other talents should be used, but I will always have the time to give up my time to volunteer. I will always be a volunteer fire fighter no matter where I go or what I do. I am a town hero. My hope is to recruit other junior members because soon enough I will become a senior in the department. The juniors are the next generation. I love the firehouse because it is full of people I can call a family. Firefighting is about brotherhood and sisterhood.