Women firefighters celebrate 30 years - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Women firefighters celebrate 30 years

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30 years ago this month, the first female firefighters were sworn into the Toledo Fire Department.

Nine women make up the "Women of Courage," and one of them is still on the street.

Barb Leid-Aldrich was a part of the largest fire class ever hired in 1984. It consisted of 55 men and for the first time 9 women. Back then, female firefighters were a big deal.

Barb tells 13abc, "I came on with 7 years as a paramedic, working with guys every third day. So, to me, I was shocked by all the animosity and confusion, because to me it was nothing but a pay raise, and I got to learn how to firefight along with my paramedics skills."

Twenty-two men out of that class are still serving on TFD. Today, Barb is the only original woman still on the street.

She says a lot has changed in 30 years. She tells 13abc, "When we first came in, we shared the same showers, shared the same rest rooms. You might sit there while five guys are in the shower, and when it's my turn, we get a run, and then I'm dirty and smelly, and you wonder what's wrong with this picture?"

Now the women of TFD have their own showers, bathrooms and lockers. Barb tells 13abc, "The attitude has changed they've embraced hiring women. They've embraced promoting women."

Toledo has three times the national average of women serving on the fire department. Out of 527 firefighters, 56 are women.

The New York Fire Department has more than 10,000 firefighters and only 27 are women.

Komako Goolsby wanted to join the department because her Dad spent 30 years fighting fires. She tells 13abc, "I always looked up to the women in the department and i felt like if they can make a difference so can I."

The women of TFD continue to break barriers...Captain Kim Hood tells 13abc, "Our first black female lieutenant is set to be promoted, Lolita Cooper. We are so proud of her. We don't have a lot of African American women. Right now we only have three, and so she will be the first black woman in history on the list to be promoted this year."

The women love serving TFD, and it shows. They encourage other women to sign up for the upcoming fire class to be a part of the greatest brother and sisterhood in this city.

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