NATIONWIDE — Dejah Woods, a 24-year old from DeLand, Florida, has made history as the first Black woman to become a firefighter for the city since it was founded in 1876.
Woods says that even as a kid, she has always aspired to become a firefighter. She just recently made that dream come to life when she pursued that career and applied for the job.
Fire Chief Todd Allen said that Woods actually excelled during the interview, including physical and written tests.
“We also had two panels of interviews we went through, independent interviews, but she rose to the top of both of those,” Allen told Click Orlando.
Now, Woods belongs to the small number of just 3 women and 4 minorities out of the 49 firefighters in DeLand. And Woods is grateful for the warm welcome she had received.
“It may be rare for me but the guys welcomed me with open arms. They don’t treat me any different than anyone who has been working here for 15 years,” Woods said.
Woods also hopes to be an inspiration to young girls and women in her community.
“If I can be that person to let little girls know that it’s a possibility, that you can be where I’m at too, that’s definitely something that I’d want to do,” she added.
Moreover, Allen mentioned that the department is actively working to recruit more minorities and women, especially at colleges and through social media.
“This has been a profession that’s been highly dominated by white males and we see those barriers breaking,” Allen said.