Thursday marked International Women’s Day and it was a well-timed goodbye for one local trailblazer, who paved the way for more women in western Massachusetts to enter the field of firefighting.
On this day, western Massachusetts's first female firefighter worked her last shift - retiring after 32 years paving the way for women.
It was one of the last times that Pamela Murphy put on her bunker gear and climbed into a truck at the Agawam Fire Department.
After a career doing everything from driving the truck, to dispatching the calls, to fighting the fires, she's hanging up her helmet.
"I started 32 years ago and when I first started, there wasn't any women. It was just me," Murphy said.
The first woman to be hired as a firefighter in western Massachusetts, Murphy told Western Mass News that she didn’t realize the history she was making at the time.
"At the time, I didn't realize that women were as far behind as they were. I was shocked to find out that I was the first. It was very natural for me," Murphy explained.
Murphy said that when it comes to firefighting, it’s all about family.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman under that oxygen mask, so long as you protect your fellow firemen and the people of Agawam.
However, for Murphy, it’s more than just her brothers on the fire department.
Firefighting is a family affair. Her daughter, son-in-law and brother are all firefighters too and when her daughter grew up seeing her mom go off to fight fires, she knew she could do anything too.
"I'm very proud of my daughter and I brought them up in the safety world and it was a very normal thing to see mom go off in her uniform," Murphy noted.
On this International Women’s Day, Murphy looked back on a successful career and realized just how far her fellow female firefighters have come.
"There are several women who have gone up the ranks, including captains, chiefs...more women that are going up the ranks. There is a lot out there for women today," Murphy said.
However, Murphy realizes there is still so much more room to grow and she’s looking forward to a world where little girls grow up dreaming to be firefighters.
Copyright 2018 Western Mass News Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.