The firehouse is a focal point to many of Linda’s memories of growing up in San Francisco. She grew up a few miles from the local station where her father worked. Linda remembers family time spent going to softball games between the different fire stations and also seeing the joy and satisfaction on her father’s face when he returned home from a job that he loved; but back then, she lacked the confidence needed to follow in those footsteps and pursue a career in fire science.
When Linda was a child, she was inspired by her father, but the door was merely cracked for women in the fire service. She reflects back at a time as a young girl when a particular department was about to appoint their first female fire chief. “I saw some resistance back then,” Linda said. She knew she wanted to do something active, but the feeling of possibly having limited options in the fire service led her down a different path that maybe she did not anticipate.
Linda went on to get her bachelor’s degree and joined the workforce, but something was missing – she did not go home with a sense of accomplishment with her work like she remembers seeing in her dad.
“I was always interested in sports and ended up at circus school in Boulder as a side hobby.” It was there that Linda gained not only the strength to succeed in a very demanding career, but also the mindset and the confidence to push herself to a new level.
She fully committed to chasing the childhood dream as a firefighter. Linda worked three jobs to save up money to go to school full-time for her EMT and eventually enrolled into the Aims Fire Academy and also works as a reserve with Front Range Fire Rescue and a volunteer for the Lyons Fire Protection District. “My biggest regret is I didn’t find Aims years ago and pursue this. They would have helped me.”
Circus school brought me to firefighting"
Obviously, there are challenges with being one of the few women on any given shift in a firehouse. She has had to learn different techniques and how to use her legs and whole body more than some of her male counterparts. “Throwing a 24-foot extension ladder is not something I did on my first try,” she recalls, but today she has overcome all of that and realizes there are many advantages to being female in this field.
“I think I have a unique perspective.” Linda and all firefighters go on many medical calls where they will encounter female patients 50% of the time. Linda has used this to her advantage in order to connect with patients and help them get through a bad day.
She also enjoys the camaraderie between her male colleagues at the firehouse. “The men in the firehouse are my brothers.” Linda really enjoys the banter, the jokes, the fun and the teamwork that goes into accomplishing a common goal.
Today, as Linda finishes up the fire academy and begins applying to fire departments, her father continues to support her, just with a little bit more pride in the fact that his daughter followed in his footsteps driven by hard work and passion. She recalls that department and community that was slightly hesitant about appointing a female chief. “Now, they have one of the highest percentage of female firefighters of anywhere in the country,” she stated.
My biggest regret is I didn't find Aims years ago and pursue this. They would have helped me."
Linda has journeyed a long winding path, that eventually led her back to the firehouse.
Tomorrow, she will make new memories as a career firefighter and will get the chance to sit down with her family and compare and contrast today’s opportunities with past memories.