Fla. FD promotes first female engineer
Panama City Fire Engineer Amanda Scoggin said she would encourage more women to go into firefighting and have confidence that they can rise up the ranks
The News Herald, Panama City, Fla.
PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Amanda Scoggin broke down barriers with her latest promotion to fire engineer, a first for the Panama City Fire Department.
A firefighter's job is grueling physically and mentally. In a profession that has long had the perception of being male-dominated, Scoggin is paving the way for other women who might have an interest in life of a firefighter.
Scoggin said she didn't grow up wanting to be a firefighter. She was working a desk job in Mississippi and only became interested in firefighting after a scuba diving trip. During that trip, she met a retired firefighter who was telling her how fun it was, so she quit her job and moved to Panama City to be a firefighter.
Now as a fire engineer, Scoggin is responsible for ensuring the station's fire engines are clean and in working order.
While she recognizes she's the only woman who has been promoted to fire engineer at the department, she doesn't feel like she's paved the way.
"I think it's not because a lot of (women) have tried and failed, I think there hasn't been that many that have tried," Scoggin said. "The job of a firefighter itself is a hard job, so there isn't a lot women in the fire service, but if you can do the job and want to, I think it's a good idea to join the fire service."
Scoggin said she feels like it's the old saying for women in the fire service — where some people have to walk, women have to fly.
She felt extremely overwhelmed with the outpouring of excitement from her friends and family with her promotion. The fire department couldn't do a traditional ceremony because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so they streamed the promotion service live on Facebook.
"I think more of my family and friends watched that than if we would've had a ceremony," Scoggin said. "I thought maybe my folks would watch it and a close friend or two, but people I've met once or twice on a dive trip watched it."
She said it makes the work she does worth it when people she barely knows are excited about her promotion.
The fire department considers itself a family because every third day, the firefighters are at the station for a 24 hour shift. They spend a lot of hours together, so it comes as no surprise to Panama City Fire Department Chief Alex Baird when he sees the crew helping Scoggin throughout the process.
"All that support, is support you would get from your family," Baird said. "It makes me feel so good that our employees are working so hard to help each other."
That support doesn't stop after the promotion. Scoggin gets a one-year probation and if she isn't successful, it's a reflection on the entire department.
Even so, Baird said he is confident in Scoggin's ability because of her work ethic and because she is a extremely competent firefighter.
Scoggin said she hopes that her promotion can serve as a reminder to the women working under her that if you want something bad enough, you'll work hard to get it.
"You're opening a door that hasn't been open yet, so all the girls under me that are firefighters, they don't have to worry about 'I'll never get promoted' – if they want it they can go get it," Scoggin said. "I feel like my whole life has been one big comparison to other women and what I can or can't do and there was somebody I wanted to be and I did whatever it took to get there."
Scoggin said she hopes to be promoted to the ranking of lieutenant before her retirement. Baird said he believes her work ethic could get her promoted to the ranking of chief one day and the department will do everything it can to support her on that journey.
©2020 The News Herald (Panama City, Fla.)
Promotion of our first female Firefighter to Engineer! Congratulations Amanda Scoggin!Posted by Panama City Fire Department on Tuesday, May 12, 2020