DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) – – The Decatur Fire Department has marked a milestone during Women’s History Month.
Tina German-Roberts was promoted last week to Lieutenant. She is the first female fire officer in the department’s history.
“Don’t be scared to be first,” she said. “I can’t think of how many times I’ve been on a fire, and I pull my helmet off in my hood and my hair flops out. And I hear, ‘oh, there’s a girl.'”
One of the colleagues cheering German-Roberts on through her promotion is fellow firefighter Jessie Brewer.
The two used to work together over at Station 1.
“She’s worked really hard,” Brewer said. “It’s just inspiring to see the first woman in the department to be the lieutenant.”
“I told her the other day that you have to be next to come up behind me,” German-Roberts said of Brewer.
German-Roberts’ exposure to public service dates back to her childhood, when her father, a police officer, would drop her off at the station to stay with the paramedics.
“They’d always be like, ‘do you want to be a cop like your dad?’ I’d say, ‘nope, I want to do that,’ and I would point at the fire trucks,” German-Roberts recalled. “The ironic part is that my daughter, my youngest, is actually in the police academy right now.”
The desire to be a firefighter may have just skipped a generation, even if the love of public service itself didn’t; German-Roberts said her seven-year-old grandson wants to be a firefighter.
German-Roberts and Brewer are currently the only women on the force. Only two others have served before in Decatur, but that’s never extinguished their passion for public service.
“I just love helping people,” Brewer said. “It’s a very exciting job. It’s very fulfilling.”
The two hope they can spark inspiration among the next generation.
“It’s a challenge every day, but that’s part of the fun of it,” Brewer said. “I encourage any woman that’s interested to go for it.”
“What I could say to little girls is if you have a dream, don’t let gender be your barrier to what you want to do for a career,” German-Roberts said.