BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Penny Reece wanted to be a firefighter for two decades and was hired 10 months ago by the Richardsville Volunteer Fire Department.

Her advice to other women: Don’t wait to pursue your dreams.

“Have no regrets,” she told the Bowling Green Daily News (http://bit.ly/2cQYZsz ). “If you’re hungry and eager to learn and eager to serve, that’s what it’s about.”

Reece, who fought a structure fire on the job for the first time on Sept. 2 in Kelly Heights, works with two other female firefighters in Richardsville.

“It’s very physically and emotionally exhausting and challenging,” Reece said. “However, the dynamics are the same across the board. You train hard to do one job. You come together as a team or group and overcome whatever circumstances at the time to serve whoever is going through whatever crisis that they are going through.”

Mary Jo Marr estimates she’s fought at least 20 structure fires in the five years she’s been with the Smiths Grove Volunteer Fire Department. Marr is the only female member of the department.

She and other female firefighters agree that fire service is rewarding work — and not just a man’s world. Marr enter the fire service after watching her husband Kenneth Marr, who also is a volunteer firefighter.

“It’s something I had always wanted to do,” she said. “I’m going to try everything. I’m going to do my best. I want to be an asset to Smiths Grove.”

Alvaton volunteer firefighter Emily Wilson became the first female firefighter for the Glasgow Fire Department last month. She is receiving training prior to becoming an active, paid firefighter in Glasgow and plans to remain with both departments. There are two other female firefighters at Alvaton.

“I don’t really see the gender difference,” Wilson said. “It’s about being my best and doing my best.

“I don’t want to be treated any differently. I’m there to do the same job they are.”

She admits having some struggles with the physical challenges of the job, including improving her grip strength.

“The key is, during training, to learn the techniques to go around that,” Wilson said. “Women are made a little different than men. I am having to learn ways to work around that.”

Alvaton Fire Chief Brad Harper said having women in his department shows other women that the opportunity is there for them.

“Then we end up with more members,” he said. “There has never been anything that female firefighters couldn’t do. I think once the ladies that are still there figured out they wanted to do it, they put their heads to it and figured out they could do anything that we could do.”


Information from: Daily News, http://www.bgdailynews.com

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