DeLAND, Fla. – A 24-year-old woman is making history in DeLand as the city’s first Black female firefighter.
Dejah Woods’ first day on the job was on Thursday. She said the dream to become a firefighter started at a young age.
“I thought maybe that’s something I should try out, maybe I should give that a try and I did and here I am,” Woods said.
Woods is now one of just three women and four minorities out of the 49 firefighters in DeLand.
“It may be rare for me but the guys welcomed me with open arms. They don’t treat me any different than anyone who has been working here for 15 years,” Woods added.
Woods said she wants to be that example for young girls and other women in her community.
“If I can be that person to let little girls know that it’s a possibility, that you can be where I’m at too, that’s definitely something that I’d want to do,” Woods said.
Fire Chief Todd Allen said Woods excelled in all interview tests, both physical and written.
“We also had two panels of interviews we went through, independent interviews, but she rose to the top of both of those,” Allen said.
Allen said the department is actively working to recruit more minorities and women. They’re engaging with more organizations in the community, using social media and recruiting at colleges.
“This has been a profession that’s been highly dominated by white males and we see those barriers breaking,” Allen said.
Data from the National Fire Protection Association shows just about 4% of firefighters are women and just over 8% are Black.