Mass. city's first female firefighter, 62, works last shift
Carol Berghaus made a dramatic career change at age 42 when she went from a dental assistant to a firefighter
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. — Carol Berghaus, the first female firefighter in Bridgewater Fire Department's history, worked her final shift Tuesday.
WCVB.com reported that for almost 17 years, Berghaus, 62, was the only female firefighter in the firehouse. Today, the department has two other female firefighters on its roster.
After nearly two decades on the job, Acting Fire Chief Tom Levy said he had a hard time summing up a career that had more significance than most.
"I just can't say enough about her," Chief Levy said. "I'm so proud of her. There wasn't anything she didn't do."
Berghaus made a dramatic career change at age 42 when she went from a dental assistant to a firefighter. She said it all started after a prison break at a nearby correctional facility on Halloween in 1992. She ran into then-Bridgewater Fire Chief Roderick Walsh, who suggested she apply for a firefighting job.
She took exams, filled out paperwork and went to the firefighting academy — where she was the only woman in a class of 40. Three years later, she became a firefighter.
"She was an older person coming on the job, but I can unequivocally state that she pulled her own weight," Chief Levy said. "For her to hang in here as long as she did at her age is a testament to her willpower and her nature."
Berghaus' retirement will be official May 20. She worked her final shift this week as she prepares to undergo hip surgery. She said she doesn't look at her career as a legacy.
"I don't look at it that way, but a lot of other people do," she said. "I was just doing my job. I had a job to do."
BFD's first female FF works her last shift before retirement today! Congratulations FF Carol Berghaus, you will be missed!— Bridgewater Fire Dpt (@BwaterFD) April 12, 2016