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Hagerstown Has First Female Career Firefighter

Associated Press

HAGERSTOWN, Md. – The Hagerstown Fire Department’s first female career firefighter worked her first shift recently, after completing nine weeks of intense training.

While others are quick to note her accomplishment, Deanna Glaze says she just wants to be a member of the department.

“They have treated me very well,” she said. “I haven’t been singled out or given any special privileges, which is the way it should be. It’s about me being part of the team, not about me being a girl.”

Glaze, 23, is stationed at Western Enterprise Fire Co., where she said some members of her training class also will be working.

When she’s not at the Hagerstown fire station, Glaze said she will be in class training to be a paramedic. She’ll also continue to work part time at other stations and volunteer at Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co., where she has been involved since she was 16.

Most of her work is as a medic, and Glaze said a career in firefighting will be more physically demanding. The training certainly was, she said.

Hagerstown Fire Department Chief Gary Hawbaker said Glaze was the only woman to make it past rigorous agility testing. Agility is part of a series of other tests, including a written exam and an interview, that narrowed the field of prospective firefighters from nearly 200 to a class of about 10.

Glaze said one of the more difficult parts of the agility testing required her to carry a 150-pound victim, represented by a life-size dummy, down a ladder.

“The physical parts, for me, were more challenging,” she said. “I’m competing with big 6-foot, 250-pound guys. I had to build my agility and strength.”

Glaze said she found that she needed some improvement in her upper-body strength to keep up.

“Girls don’t have as much upper-body strength,” she said. “So, I had to find other ways to do things.”

That included using her legs more or other techniques. Glaze also made more trips to the gym to increase her strength.

Glaze said that before she applied to be a firefighter in Hagerstown, there were some who said she wouldn’t be able to do it. Not because she wasn’t qualified, but because the physical requirements would be too demanding.

She said that being a woman in a primarily male field can be intimidating at times. But, for her, firefighting is a passion and another chance to serve.

“This really is a special interest of mine now, and a passion,” Glaze said. “And I know I’ll be bettering myself in the fire department.”

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