WATERVILLE, Maine — An October Nor'easter hit the coast of Maine Thursday. Hundreds of thousands of power outages, routine calls, and training kept fire departments across the state busy.
In Waterville, one trainee began her pump training on the third engine truck. Nothing new, except the firefighter is Katie Hennessy, the first female firefighter in the history of the department.
Hennessy has plenty of medical and emergency response experience.
“I became an EMT about four or five years ago and also got my firefighter certifications that year as well, and I also became a certified nurse in the same year too," she said.
Years of training have prepared Hennessy for her next challenge. Fighting fires for the community of Waterville, a challenge she is ready to take on.
“I like fire its challenging, it’s a different thing every day. So, working in the EMS world is just an amazing opportunity to help people," Hennessy added.
Male or female, it doesn't matter for Fire Chief Shawn Esler. He mentioned that he wants firefighters that can do the job well.
“Katie applied here like every other applicant and she quickly rose to the top of our candidate list by her own performance," Esler said.
Woman leaders are nothing new to the town of Waterville. Esler added that the history made by the department comes at no surprise.
“The community already knows that our women are leading the way anyway. So I don’t think it comes to any surprise that we’ve hired Katie," he mentioned.
Hennessy doesn't think herself as a pioneer or a trailblazer. But it's tough to not ask how she feels being the first person in her position to put out fires in a town with a long fire department history.
“Many other women have paved the way for me. I’m just continuing that pathway for other women in this area and hopefully further," Hennessy said.
Hennessy has three weeks of training to get through before she is on active duty responding to calls. The training includes becoming familiar with all of the engines and other vehicles in the firehouse.
Waterville firefighters are responsible to know how to use and operate everything.
"We’re very dynamic here we rotate on trucks quite a bit and we expect each of our firefighters to perform on each apparatus," said Edward Moult the firefighter training Hennessy on engine three.
Chief Esler is confident that Hennessy will complete her training and be on active duty in no time. He also wants to encourage that anyone who thinks they can serve their community is welcome to apply at the fire department.
“It's important for the community to understand that the fire department is very diverse and there are a lot of opportunities for women here and honestly we look forward to having them," he added.
Whether she's trailblazing the way for other women, trying to become firefighters, or helping put out blazing flames, Waterville's first female firefighter is ready to do what she has done for years, help her community.