- Associated Press - Friday, December 25, 2015

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - A softball coach from North Carolina is the first female hired by the Oxford Fire Department with hopes of becoming a full-time firefighter.

The Oxford Eagle (https://bit.ly/1OMa5H1) reports 27-year-old Brittany McKinney moved to Oxford about four months ago and in October applied to become a firefighter.

She has no previous experience and will spend the next six months working at the fire department helping the firefighters, attending training classes and learning the ins and outs of being a firefighter.

In April, she will attend the firefighter academy and, if she passes, she will be the city’s first female firefighter.

Fire Chief Cary Sallis said McKinney is one of four women who applied but was the only one who passed the Candidate Physical Ability Test.

“She impressed everyone during her interview,” Sallis said. “Her ability to complete the CPAT and her determination in doing that put her above some of the other candidates. No one had any reservations in selecting her.”

She was officially hired Nov. 30.

McKinney was a Division I softball coach at North Carolina State and UNC-Greensboro. She played softball for UNC-Chapel Hill.

“It’s always been my passion to be a servant to the community,” McKinney said. “I was coaching and playing softball professionally because it was what I always knew. But I also knew this was the career path I wanted to follow.”

McKinney is currently working on getting her volunteer firefighter certification, which allows helping on calls.

“She can’t go into a structure,” Sallis said. “But she can help pull hoses, move equipment and once she gets her certification, we can do some live training.”

She will start a regular working firefighter shift schedule in the middle of January.

Sallis said he’s excited and proud to be the chief that welcomed the department’s first female firefighter.

“We haven’t had many females apply until this year,” he said. “We had one about eight years ago but she couldn’t make it through the physical test. This makes us a better, more diverse fire department.”

McKinney said she had no idea the fire department had no female firefighters when she applied and hopes she can be a role model to other young women who are considering a career in firefighting.

“I had no intentions of being a trailblazer when I applied,” she said. “But I had role models when I was younger that I looked up to and hopefully I can be that to someone pursuing a career in this field.”

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Information from: Oxford Eagle, https://www.oxfordeagle.com


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