Kan. fire dept. hires first female firefighter in its 141-year history

Cadie-Marie Stapleton, 18, of Galena, has changed the course of history, becoming the first female volunteer firefighter with the Galena Fire Department


By Kimberly Barker
The Joplin Globe

GALENA, Kan. — Cadie-Marie Stapleton, 18, of Galena, has changed the course of history, becoming the first female volunteer firefighter with the Galena Fire Department since its establishment in 1877.

Ever since Cadie-Marie was a young girl, she dreamed of following in her family's footsteps in hopes of becoming a volunteer firefighter. Now, she can call that dream a reality.

Cadie-Marie Stapleton, 18, of Galena, has changed the course of history, becoming the first female volunteer firefighter with the Galena Fire Department. (Photo/City of Galena)
Cadie-Marie Stapleton, 18, of Galena, has changed the course of history, becoming the first female volunteer firefighter with the Galena Fire Department. (Photo/City of Galena)

"It's exciting," Cadie-Marie said. "I've waited so long for it, and it's finally happened."

She serves alongside her father, Lt. Chad Stapleton, and older brother, Cade, 21, at the department. Her family lives in an apartment building connected to the fire station, and she said firefighting is all she has ever known.

"I've lived here since I was 4, and I've grown up around it," Cadie-Marie said. "My grandpa, dad and brother are firefighters. I wanted to continue that family tradition and help the community."

She officially joined the department on May 10, and she said the crew of about 22 members have been nothing but supportive.

"They've really accepted me and treat me just like everyone else," Cadie-Marie said. "All of the people on the fire department are like brothers to me, and they treat me like I'm their little sister. I love it."

Her father, who has been serving with the department for 18 years, mentioned that he's proud of his children for becoming volunteers. His wife, Stephanie Stapleton, said this is all their daughter has talked about her entire life.

"When she was little, her dad would bring his bunker gear home," Stephanie said. "She'd have snow pants and snow boots and put it by her dad's, and say it was her bunker gear. This has been for as long as I can remember. Now, I have all three of them that go, and I don't ever worry, really. They all take care of each other."

Fire Chief Bill Hall said that he's all for women joining the department, although few have asked about it.

"Cadie-Marie has been an asset, and we knew she was," he said.

Hall said that Cadie-Marie attended fire calls with her father long before she became a firefighter.

"We watched her very closely and knew that she was interested, but at the time, our bylaws did not permit anyone below 18 in the department," Hall said. "She would carry things to the firemen. We would keep her active and she practiced safety."

While she's not serving as a firefighter, Cadie-Marie works as a lifeguard at the public pool and plans on attending Pittsburg State University in the fall. She graduated from Galena High School in May and joined the department soon after.

Cadie-Marie said she hopes that by becoming the first female firefighter in the department's 141-year history that she will more women to join.

"I want to show that women can be firefighters," Cadie-Marie said. "Guys don't think women can be firefighters, but you just have to prove them wrong."

Training program

New Galena volunteer firefighters must undergo a three-step training program. For the first six months, they receive gear but aren't allowed to go into a house during a fire. After that six months is over, they'll be allowed to respond to a fire accompanied by another firefighter. Once they've been on the department for a year, their probation is over and they become a full-time member.

Copyright 2018 The Joplin Globe

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