Virginia: A candid conversation on the challenges faced by Norfolk's first female firefighter

  • Source: WVEC-TV ABC 13 Hampton
  • Published: 03/05/2020 12:00 AM

VIDEO: More than 40 years ago, the first woman went through Norfolk's fire academy. Pamela Ells-Johnson was just 25 years old and tells 13News Now that she was simply looking for a career when she applied. She ended up paving the way for women in Norfolk Fire-Rescue. Although back then, it was called Norfolk Fire Department. "I'm so proud of what I accomplished," she told 13News Now. "And when I tell people, they're like, 'You did what?'" The year was 1979 and Ells-Johnson's historic acceptance into the academy was broadcasted by this very TV station across Hampton Roads. Our archives don't even go back that far -- but Ells-Johnson shared her home video of the newscast about her. It was tough work, she recalled, having to carry a lot of equipment, wear the big, heavy clothes and constantly train. But she did it. She proved herself, passing the fire academy. Upon graduation, however, Ells-Johnson made the choice not to pursue the career.


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