As a teenager, Trina Davies, had two career goals.
“I wanted to either be a firefighter or an American wrestler,” she said.
Growing up in England, Davies was a Royal Air Force Air Cadets, which is similar to the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or JROTC, program in the U.S.
The air cadet program is based at 200 schools and colleges across the U.K., where students can take part in training and activities as part of their school life.
“I got my glider pilot’s license and marksmanship license, Davies said. “I was in a male-dominated environment, and back then, women weren’t really accepted.”
Before diving into a career, Davies wanted to travel abroad. So at 18, she found a position as a live-in nanny in the U.S. She lived in her employer’s home and cared for their three children, including a newborn.
She realized she had a burning desire to become a firefighter when she landed a job with the Rochester Fire Department in New York.
Four years after Rochester, Davies got a position with the Charlotte Fire Department, and her impact on the community through her work is remarkable.
She and her fellow female firefighters lead Camp Ignite, which is a free camp for high school girls.
Camp Ignite sparks new interests and goals in the young women while introducing them to the fire service as a possible career.
The campers trained alongside professional female firefighters as they learn skills, including rappelling, search and rescue techniques, running fire hoses and climbing ladders.
Just 2% of Charlotte firefighters are female, and Davies knows the importance of having more women on the team.
“We hold diversity, equity and inclusion in high regard. We are working to be an equitable and inclusive organization that embraces and values the individuality of our members while maintaining team cohesiveness,” Charlotte Fire Chief Reginald Johnson said. “These ideals empower us to unite understanding with action while serving our communities with dignity.”
While the number of fire-related calls has declined in recent decades, the volume of calls to the Charlotte Fire Department has continued to grow.
Because the Charlotte Fire Department is responding to an ever-growing range of incidents, firefighters’ roles and responsibilities have grown, too.
A captain on Engine 3, Davies encourages more women to join the fire team.
“I’m a single mom with two children and all my family is in England, but this is a tight-knit community so it’s doable,” Davies said. “I don’t want females to think they can’t have a family and a career.”
The Charlotte Fire Department employs more than 1,160 men and women, including 1,040 firefighters.
“Through our recruitment efforts, we continue to explore innovative ways to create a more diverse workforce and enhance our organizational culture,” Johnson said.
Firefighters work hard to keep over 800,000 people of Mecklenburg County safe around the clock, and they often put the lives of others before their own.
The Charlotte Fire Department application process is now open.
© 2021 Cox Media Group