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St. Paul Fire fighter hopes to inspire more female firefighters

Jodie Carroll broke the fitness test record back in 2018, finishing the seven minute test in three minutes and seven seconds.

ST PAUL, Minn. — A centuries-old institution is trying something new. The St. Paul Fire Department recently rolled out an all-female firefighter calendar.

"We have Operation Warm Coats for Kids, and we did our first female firefighter calendar," Jodie Carroll explained. She said the proceeds of the calendar go towards purchasing winter coats for children who need them.

Carroll is in that very calendar, on the month of June. She herself made ripples since she came on the department back in 2018, smashing the women's record test time of three minutes and 11 seconds.

Her record was 3:07.

As the third Black woman to be hired in the department's history, Carroll said she stumbled onto the job, having heard about it from a women's expo back when she was a fitness instructor.

"They had us pick out turnout coats, and try out the equipment, climb the ladder, started the saws, all the stuff you would do on the job," Carroll recalled. "And at that time, I just knew, that's what I wanted to do. I just felt like I belonged."

Now nearly four years into her job, she's hoping more women, would join her.

Currently, the St. Paul Fire Department has a workforce of 442. 

Twenty-nine women, making up 6.6 percent of the department. While that is higher than the national average of four percent, Carroll said they are always working to bring that number up.

"There's very few of minority women right now on," Carroll said. "That's getting better, but we definitely need that, we need our faces out there."

And the reason? is simple; it's so they can reflect the community, in the most meaningful ways, on often the toughest days of the lives of those they serve.

"[It's] understanding you know? Every culture is different," Carroll said. "So if you have someone who speaks the language or understands the dynamics, that's really really important."

Also, the representation, not just on a calendar -- makes a difference.

"I walk up in my turnout gear, and my helmet, and tools, and they see me, sometimes people yell out, 'hey girl!'" she said. "They're super excited to see me, it's super important to know that if they can see it, they can be it."

Carroll said SPFD is looking to hire next year. In the meantime, EMS Academy is open, as well as the Explorer program, which are both opportunities for the public to get involved. 

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