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Firefighting sisterhood makes local history
Hall County recruits find camaraderie as largest female class
Elizabeth Taylor, Misty Quillen, A.J. Mixer, Nina Morris and Leigh Whitmire stand at the Gainesville/Hall County Joint Fire Training Facility on Tuesday, April 28, 2015. Hall County Fire Services had the highest number of female recruits of all time this year. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Each of the five female recruits graduating this month from training with Hall County Fire Services has her own reason for wanting to be a firefighter.

For some, it’s a calling. One woman says she has a servant’s heart. Another wants to be there for victims in their toughest moments of loss.

While their reasons for joining the program may differ, the common ground these women share is a sense of sisterhood.

They’re also making local history.

As the highest number of female firefighter recruits — by far — to ever graduate at one time with the Hall County Fire Services’ training program, they have found camaraderie in the milestone.

Training Lt. Angie Davis says the landmark moment is about “acceptance.”

“People are seeing and understanding that not only can females do this job, they can do it well,” said Davis, who helped oversee instruction for the recruits who graduated April 17.

The graduating class consisted of five females and 20 males. Previous classes, Davis said, have had no more than two females at a time.

Elizabeth Taylor, a Dahlonega resident, said she felt a sense of professional fellowship among the mostly male recruits.

“They treated us exactly the same as the guys,” Taylor said. “Only difference was they held the door open for us.”

Fellow recruit A.J. Mixer of Gainesville agreed.

“Everything expected of (the women) was expected of everyone else,” Mixer said. “It was very equal.”

Recruits like Mixer trained in the areas of fire suppression, basic and advanced emergency medical care, technical rescue and hazardous materials. Their lessons took place in a training pad, training tower and drafting pit, all of which aim to simulate the dangers each rescuer faces in a real firefighting situation.

For recruit Misty Quillen of Habersham County, being a firefighter means “providing a service to people when they really need it ... during their worst times.”

Added Quillen: “For me, that’s more rewarding than any paycheck.”

Recruit Nina Morris of Forsyth County said she has “a servant’s heart, and I wanted to fulfill that need to serve others with this job.”

Adina Leigh Whitmire of Blairsville grew up in a family with “lots of friends who were firefighters. I pretty much grew up in a fire station. That might be where I got the desire to do this. But I mainly wanted to have a job where

I could help people who need and deserve it.”

Mixer said she’s enjoyed the companionship of her fellow women recruits.

 “It’s been so awesome to have so many females in our class,” she said.

Davis said teaching the recruits and watching the graduating group make history for Hall County Fire Services has been an enjoyable experience.

“These recruits, they understand each other,” Davis said. “They’ve built a sisterhood here, and I think that’s great.”