Tuesday, September 27, 2011

News Advisory - Montgomery County’s First Female Firefighter Retiring after 32 Years

Firefighter Pam Foltz Proves She Has The Right Stuff   

Rockville - - -  The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service has grown over the years. In 1979, Pam Foltz made history when she became the first woman in Montgomery County to successfully complete recruit school and became a career firefighter. At the time, the department had no policy for maternity leave, uniforms and gear were tailored for men, firehouse living quarters and locker rooms were not designed for women and only male grooming standards existed. However, that’s all changed in the 32 years that Firefighter Foltz has been putting out fires and taking the heat. Montgomery County quickly made changes to accommodate the changing workforce and developed standards and guidelines that were ultimately viewed as a model by  fire departments around the Country. 

Breaking the barrier into a male-dominated field and motivated by the desire to save lives, Foltz left college and a promising future as a school teacher to become a career firefighter.  After three decades on the job, she is hanging up her gear for the final time on Wednesday and retiring.  “It’s been a great career. The fire service has changed and the culture has changed,” said Firefighter Foltz. “I think of the many mentors I have had over the years, many of them now deceased, and would like to think that they would be very proud of me and where we are today.” 

Always viewed as a progressive department, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service and Firefighter Foltz have seen both the image of fire fighting and the culture of the fire service slowly transform. With only 6,000 of the nation’s 300,000 full-time firefighters female, Firefighter Foltz has worked hard to change stereotypes associated with the career. While she 

faced many challenges right out of recruit school, she is proud to have forged ahead and to see women making strides, moving up the ranks and climbing the ladder of success. A memorably moment came in her career came in the late 1990’s when she arrived at work at Station 1 in Silver Spring and there was an all-female crew on duty, which she believes was the first time something like that had ever occurred.  
“It’s becoming less of an eye-opener when a little girl says she wants to be a firefighter or EMT when she grows up,” said Fire Chief Richard Bowers. “I think women like Firefighter Foltz have opened that door and blazed the trail and that’s a win-win for the department and the community.” 

Well-wishers are invited to stop by and wish Firefighter Foltz well on her last shift:
                               Thursday, September 29, 2011
                               10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
                               Fire Station One
                               8110 Georgia Avenue
                               Silver Spring, MD

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