Boise Fire graduates: 'Walking in the door I was like I need to be here'

Their hard work didn't start at the academy. About 800 people applied, 502 tested an are only two of twelve who made it to the very end. (Courtesy Boise Fire Department)

The City of Boise has twelve new firefighters. They graduated from the academy on Friday and with that class the department now has two more women on the team.

For the last 20 weeks, Dana Bergstrom and Sandra Rollings and ten other new probational firefighters have been training and pushing themselves, going through constant drills to graduate from Boise's fire academy.

"You know some people will talk about how firefighting is a calling and I truly believe that," said Bergstrom. "You know walking in the door that day it was like alright how do I make this process."

Their hard work didn't start at the academy. About 800 people applied and 502 tested. These women are two of twelve people that were picked for the academy and made through to the very end.

"The interview process alone is rigorous enough to make sure like it's a dedicated," said Rollings. "It's a commitment to become a firefighter."

"It's a second job," added Bergstrom.

They say the toughest part, if not the whole point, has been the physical, mental, and emotional challenges they went through everyday.

They had to accept that failure was a part of the process. Their instructors made sure they could fail and get right back up again.

"We are trying to prove ourselves not only as females but that we do deserve to be here as individuals serving our citizens and being a part of Boise Fire," Bergstrom said. "So for me it was just that pressure I put on myself to get through every day and show up the next."

Both women have military background and understand there are some misconceptions about their abilities. They encourage the naysayers to talk to them, ask questions and watch the hard work put in.

"There is no female weight you know versus male weight," explained Bergstrom. "It's not a workout that we get to pick you know how much weight we pull. The standard is set for all of us and it's the same. So we're able to pick up the same weight that a man is in the fire service."

"Obviously there's things we have to overcome in different ways," added Rollings. "I think it's all about the learning techniques that work for us but standards stay the same so it's just about finding what works for us and our body types to make it happen."

Both left the military with a goal to help others and the fire department felt like a natural fit. They tell me the personal bonds you create in this job are something rare that you won't find many other places.

"This family that I'm apart of now just makes it worth it every single day. I strive to be better and I'm excited to be better not only to serve the citizens of Boise but to serve alongside such amazing men and women," said Bergstrom.

They say for anyone interested in firefighting, the biggest thing is to just go for it regardless of what might get in your way. Do your research, do ride alongs, and don't be afraid to go after it.

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