Not Just a Man's World

Out of all the people in volunteer and career fire departments around the United States only 7% are women. In the South-Central Kentucky region that number is even lower. Here are some of the women who make up that small number in this region of Kentucky.

Ashley Lindsey, 31, is a mother of three young girls, a flight nurse by trade, and has been volunteering with the Alvaton Fire Department for two years. “When I started flying in helicopter EMS I fell in love with the pre-hospital part of patient care and that included the fire service” Lindsey said. “To provide for my community, I wanted to become a firefighter so I could assist from start to finish.” When asked how it felt being a women in a predominantly male industry Lindsey said, “We are all one family and I know my brothers are there for me as I’m there for them.”

Jennifer Fuchs, 40, has been with the Paducah Fire Department for 10 years. Fuchs was one of two women hired on to become the first women employed by the Paducah Fire Department. “I always wanted to be a firefighter when I was little” Fuchs said. When asked how it felt to become one of Paducah’s first women firefighters Fuchs said, “It was pretty exciting to say the least, I didn’t want any special recognition. I was just ecstatic that I even got the job.” Since Fuchs hiring, another woman, Brandy Garrett, has joined the department as of 2016.

Rhiannon Greer, 38, has been with the Paducah Fire Departmentfor 10 years. Along with Fuchs, she was one of the two women hired that became Paducah’s first women firefighters. “I’ve always enjoyed helping others and this is the perfect job for that” Greer said. When asked how it felt to become one of Paducah’s first women firefighters Greer said, “I didn’t look at it that way, I was just going to be a firefighter. It’s a feat, we made history in this small town. It is awesome.”

Melna Wilson, 57, is the only active female volunteer with the Woodburn Volunteer Fire Department. “I earned my EMT certification last year and was looking for a way to utilize that training. Joining a volunteer fire department seems to be the perfect fit” Wilson said. “I am not as strong and don't see myself climbing ladders with a chainsaw to open a roof. But, there are jobs and roles for everyone so I think I'll be filling some kind of role whenever I respond to whatever emergency presents itself.”

Shannon Raymer, 31, recently became the first female member of the Owensboro Fire Department. After college Raymer started a family and decided to take the career path of law enforcement where she stayed for seven years. When a job opportunity with the fire department became available, Raymer’s brother encouraged her to apply. “I really wanted to do something to continue to serve others every day, especially at their worst times” Raymer said on why she decided to apply. When asked how it felt to be the first women in the department, Raymer said, “I didn’t feel like I needed their approval or acceptance. We help each other out, we have our strengths and weaknesses.”

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