The City of Milledgeville and the Milledgeville Fire Department are pleased to announce that Heather Nation has become the second female firefighter to join the MFD team.
Nation follows in the footsteps of Milledgeville’s first female firefighter, Gail Register, who worked with the MFD in the 1980’s.
Nation, 25, from Greene County, started her first day at work on Tuesday, July 17. In addition to her fire rescue duties, Nation is also an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
She has been an EMT in the Greene County area for two years.
“I worked for a private companyandit shared a station with the fire department station. After I began working in Emergency Medical Services, I felt I wanted to apply that knowledge to becoming a firefighter.”
The milestone is a fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Nation.
“It was always what I wanted to do—nothing else even came close,” she said. “When most girls my age wanted to be a nurse, all I wanted to be was a firefighter.”
She says her passion to help others began when she became an EMT.
Nation hopes that she will serve as a role model for other girls interested in becoming a firefighter.
“When I saw the firefighters I worked with, I saw there were no female ones, and I wanted to change that,” she said. “My hopes are that some little girl might see me and will be encouraged to become a firefighter, too.”
Nationwide, only about four percent of firefighters are women, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, even as that figure has risen to about 14 percent in police work and the military. In addition to law enforcement and the military, the U.S. Department of Labor also reports that traditionally male occupations like farming and construction management also have higher percentages of women working than firefighting.
According to the National FireProtectionAssociation, there are more than 1.1 million firefighters in the United States; only seven percent of those firefighters are women.
“I think there needs to be more female firefighters. I love the feedback and support I’ve received from the community and I love when young girls come up to me when I’m wearing my uniform to ask me about it. No one is used to seeing a woman in a firefighter uniform and I think it’s awesome,” Nation said.
In the short amount of time Nation has began working for the Milledgeville Fire Department,shehasbonded with others on the shift who she says look to her as one of the family.
“I love the shift. It’s fun working with all of them and getting real hands on job experience. Plus it’s like having a bunch of big brothers and uncles to look out for you.”
Although petite in size, Nation is very strong.
“Not only is it rare to see women as firefighters but I think it’s rare to see small women like me become firefighters,” she added. “I thinkI’mfairlystrong.When I first got into this line of work, I joined CrossFit and if you compare the female I am now to the one I was last July I could probably break that female in two.”
Nation had applied at other places in the Atlanta area, but she was hoping she would land the job here in Milledgeville.
“I put in at some places in Atlanta, but I know up there I would just be a number to them—just another firefighter. Here, people see me, they know my name, and I feel more a part of the community.”
“I think she will be a great asset to our fire department and to our community,” said City Manager Barry Jarrett. “I have no doubt she will makethecityofMilledgeville and the Milledgeville Fire Department proud.”