Black firefighters make up 7.5% of all firefighters in the United States, with Black female firefighters making up an even smaller percentage.
A new hire at the DeLand Fire Department in Florida marked a historic moment for the DeLand community. Daytona Beach native Dejah Woods became the department’s first Black firefighter to ever work at the department. “I’ve always wanted to serve for my country,” she said. She says that she hopes to be a voice of encouragement to others.
Fire chief Todd Allen said it’s a sign change is happening. He said, “As I grew up, all the toys I played with, all the little firefighter toys, they were all male, and this has been a profession that’s been highly dominated by white males, and we see the barriers breaking… It’s imperative that we have faces in our department that reflect the community.”
Woods makes clear that firefighting is for everyone.
“As long as we all have the heart for it, it doesn’t matter the color, size, shape, gender, none of that matters.”