Meet Firefighter Samanta

SammieWho says girls can’t fight fires? Meet 20 year-old Samanta aka “Sammie” from the suburbs of New York. Sammie talks about her passion for her career and how she overcame obstacles to do what she loves. She also offers some great advice for future women firefighters.

GCW: What is your main passion and describe when you first became interested in it.

Sammie: Firefighting! I’ve always wanted to do something out of the ordinary with myself, something challenging! My mother once suggested volunteering in the community and the idea took off from there. Some of my friends were members of other local departments and they helped me get started, from that point on, I guess you can say I caught the ‘bug’.

GCW: Have you ever been injured or encountered any setbacks while pursuing your dream?

Sammie: Right at the the time I joined, I had a little ‘encounter’ with a car, it was nothing big, but my foot was useless for a good month. Other than that, during training and calls, I often strain my back and neck and have to see my chiropractor. The only other major thing was my knee, over time I’ve put enough stress on it and developed water build up.

GCW: What is your favorite tool, piece of equipment or (whatever) that you use?

SammieSammie: I love the halligan tool! During one really great training session I tore apart the wall with just that tool, and made a pretty great doorway! The runner up is a pair of hydraulic cutters, they get pretty heavy but Ive found a great way for myself to keep them up and working, I prop my knee up against the car (or just get low enough) and rest the body of the tool right a the edge of my knee, it takes a lot of the weight off. My favorite ‘big tool’, or truck rather, is our tower ladder. A few months ago I became a certified flyer and I absolutely love it!

GCW: Do you have a favorite event or memory?

Sammie: Definitely the first time I had a line into a building. The truck I rolled up with was first due, my best friend grabbed the nozzle, and I was backing him up. We went in the front door, down the basement stairs and the fire started licking out from the basement over the ceiling of the staircase…it was something I’d never forget, needless to say I didn’t sleep that night!

GCW: That sounds exciting! What are some of the highlights of your career?

Sammie: Any fire I’ve been to, it’s a different experience every time!

GCW: What challenges have you faced as a female firefighter?

SammieSammie: In the beginning, some of the guys just took me as a complete joke, I felt really left out for a while. I’ve had some comments made to me that really upset me, I’ve even thought of quitting a few times! But I became close with some great people that constantly encouraged me and told me not to give up! Every time I felt like leaving I’d think about how great it feels to get on the truck and respond to a call. Even now, I know there are still some people that think I don’t belong here but overall I think I’ve shown how much I care and want to do this.

GCW: Your passion definitely shines through. Have you ever been told you ‘can’t’ because you are a girl? What did you do about it?

Sammie: My grandmother has actually told me that! Shes very old-school and she doesn’t think it’s how a lady should behave, but I think shes grown to accept that I’m a little rough around the edges and I really do have a passion for this. Unfortunately it’s happened within the firehouse as well, during a party one of the guys must have had a bit too much too drink and made a really nasty comment…I pretty much let it go…at least it never happened again!

GCW: What do you think is your greatest accomplishment?

Sammie: Making it this far! Between feeling incompetent and realizing that I’m not as physically strong as the guys, I’ve felt like a failure a lot…but somehow I kept myself going (a lot of credit to my friends also!). Another thing is that I think I proved to at least some people that I can do this, I thrived on showing the ones that knew I couldn’t do it…that I can!

GCW: Your persistance has paid off for you….so how would you encourage other girls who are interested in firefighting?

Sammie: Join, and be prepared to struggle. You have to hold your own, and remember in this field, talking doesn’t mean much, you have to show what you’re made off. At the same time be realistic about your limits. Very often I’ll keep going until my hearts beating like a rabbit, I guess I look pale because I’ve been told ‘it’s time for you to take a break’. Your limitations are not your weaknesses, you have to work with what you’ve got. I love training because it helps me figure out what I can do and how much I can do… when we’re training rescues I like work with my partner to drag out the dummies (some of them can weight 180-200 lbs!) that way I know which way is most efficient for me

GCW: What other interests do you have?

Sammie: I love Yoga! Its incredibly relaxing. I’ve also always enjoyed writing and art…it brings out the softer side in me.

GCW: Sammie – thanks for taking the time to tell us about your fantastic career and overcoming the challenges and limitations you have faced as a female firefighter. Girls Can’t WHAT? wishes you the best in all that you do!

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16 Comments

  1. xoamillion2onex0 on May 15, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    I am a proud female firefighter also. I love this job. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I just wanted to say thank you. You inspired me to get a girlscantwhat.com profile and share my thoughts. I just took and vehicle rescue class and that was the best. I haven’t run into any guys yet who didn’t want me there.:d

  2. chouser19 on May 27, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Its always great to hear of other women in the business of firefighting. Ive gotten quite a bit of crap of my guys but I think Im finally showing them what Im made of. Thanks for what you do!! Every women firefighter is an inspiration to me!!

  3. sammie460 on June 3, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    aw thanks you guys! It makes me so happy to know other women feel the same way about this as I do

  4. babybee on August 27, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    this was really encouraging…im 16 and i really wanna be a firefighter.. i know its gonna be hard work and training but i know i can do it.. but more my brother is doing it too and hes in the academy now and he says out of 50 people only 2 are girls and he says they are the weakest ones and the ones who struggle the most but i wanna be one ahead of most of the guys and show them up haha but i love reading about other women fire fighters and thier successes its inspiring

  5. xoamillion2onex0 on September 1, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    This is to:babybee
    I am happy that ur brother made it into an academy, I would die to but yet he says they are the weakest ones…they are doing the same thing, maybe at a slower pase but still getting it done. right? I like that how u are like I want to be one ahead…good for u. Trust me I’m in 2 fire departments and its great!! The criticism has stopped, I guess because I have showed that it does not bother me. We have been running calls like crazy. The other day me and my friend Mikey went on a structure fire and when we go there the trailer was gone…so our fellow firefighter told us to grab the line. We did and we put the fire out together..I was sweating like crazy but I enjoyed every minute. And take it from me, if you want to be a firefighter…DON’T LET ANYBODY TELL YOU, YOU CAN’T.:d

  6. kellmichele on November 17, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    so i guess this is to all of you im 20 im about to finish hair school in like five weeks and that is not what i want to do at all i want to be a firefighter ive kept my mouth shut for a while now because every time i would tell some one this they would laugh but last night i told my close friends and when they laugh i just let it go im done letting that stop me i havent told my mother yet i figured i need to get everything in order fist so what im asking you is where do i go from here

  7. gretchen on November 17, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    kellmichele – that is a huge step you just took and I’m very proud of you for having the courage to do that. I’m not 100% what your first move should be, but I would start by searching the Internet for other women who are firefighters and network with them for information and support. You are not alone in wanting to become a firefighter and there are women who have achieved the rank of battalion chief. Do some research and let us know how things work out. If you get discouraged, let us know and we’ll help as best we can. That’s what this site is here for. :)

  8. Megan on November 20, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    I must comment as well, I am a female fire fighter myself, I’m usually the only girl that gets in there and gets my hands dirty, and not afraid to do it. (which most of the guys are surprised and taken aback by that) I’ve been doing it since I was 16 and I’m 19 now. Its all volunteer which is what makes it all the better.
    I totally understand where your coming from, at first a lot of the guys thought I shouldn’t be there or that I couldn’t keep up, but they thought different when I was dragging them behind me :)
    You go girl, fire girls totally rule!!:d/:)>-

  9. Sammie on January 17, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    My name is Sammie, and i am a proud female fire fighter as well!!! Dont ever let anyone say girls cant do anything!

  10. amber on May 29, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    My name is amber, and i have always wanted to be a firefighter. Its my passion! i have just graduated from high school and fixing to start at the academy for training. I am kind of nervous about that because i am a small girl. A lot of people tell me i am to small and cant do this job…i will be the only female firefighter in my department… how do i prove myself to the guys that i can do it just as good as they can?

  11. Dashaunda Bryant on November 1, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    well iwant to become a friefighter to that was a lot of good information i know i can do it that all i say that my longh term goal to become a friefighter and this is my dream is to become a firefighter thanks fo r the edvice because every one i know as in boys that girls can’t become a friefighter but just like you i am going to prove them wrong.

  12. marcie on April 11, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Every since I was a little girl I always wanted to be a firefighter,but my mom made me quit liking it because she wanted me to do what she wants. Now Im 19 she still think Im stupid doing. If I try to get information to get in the fire department she always get mad at me. Its my dream to be one.

  13. Stephanie on November 8, 2011 at 1:12 am

    I was very happy to stumble upon this site and specifically, this article. I began my firefighting career over 2 years ago and felt that I could relate to some of what Samantha has gone through as well. Props to anyone else who wants to join too, and don’t let ANYONE say you can’t, especially just because you’re a girl. Always feels good to prove ’em wrong eh? ;)

  14. WORD on February 5, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    YUUP BUT IMAGEN A SEXY ONE:)

  15. JHA_2012 on October 11, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Hey my name is Jestine, ever since I was a little girl I would get laughed at because I wanted to be a firefighter, and I remember one time in kinderkarden it was career day and all the girls picked out model and superstar the adverage girl stuff and once I said and showed mine everybody laughed including the teacher but it really didn’t bother me till middle school so I decided to say I’m going to be a cop never sounded right to me cause no offense to cops I could never give out like a 400 dollar ticket cause you never know somebodys situation. But overall I’m 18 now I just graduated and I’m taking my 1st responders now and then my emt and then I would be off to fire school in Ocala, fl. But I just need one piece of advise is it ok that I’m nervous? Like there really isn’t no support from women firefighters where I live because none live or work here so I can’t get none but hopefully some of you can relate and give me some feedback.

  16. leslie on October 11, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Education Education Education! Move to a state where women have blazed a trail for you, get your experience, then move back… remember, mediocre performance will not be good enough. Remember, you will have to work like a man but still act like a lady. Set yourself apart, but be a team player, yes sounds contradicting but it’s not. Some women have gone before and their goal was to marry a Fire Fighter, not to actually be one… Most can figure out if that is what is happening. Unfortunately, because of lawsuits of sexual harassment, places are leery of hiring females.

    I am not familiar with what it takes to be a Florida Fire Fighter. Go to your local station and set up an appointment to talk with the Chief, Never hurts to talk to the Chief. You can do this… I worked my way from volunteer status to Assistant Chief of an Academy.

    California is a progressive state, other woman have gone before, so women in the Fire Service isn’t a big deal out here. A Bachelors degree in Business Management will give you a let up, volunteering will give you a leg up… Find the U.S. Forest Service website apply for an entry level experience, again, they are nation wide and you being a girl is no big deal, in addition, they have programs you can apply for that will pay for your education and guarantee you a full time job. I have friend that have worked for U.S.F.S., done their time, retired at 30ish, then turned around and were hired for CalFire in Captains positions.

    A word to the wise… learn the terminology so that it shows you know what you are talking about… it’s NOT Fire School, it would be the Fire Academy…

    here is the website for USFS

    https://www.avuedigitalservices.com/casting/aiportal/control/mainmenu?agency=usfs

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