MOULTRIE, Ga. -- The City of Moultrie witnessed a historic moment on May 6 as Kristen Snell became the fire department’s first female corporal. It might be something new to the city but to her, it’s an everyday occurrence.
Snell, a Florida native, grew up with the goal of becoming a firefighter while watching her father serve as one. He was her role model. But she was also surrounded by women in the fire service. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary there.
When she came to the MFD in February 2018, she found out that her being a female firefighter wasn’t the normal here, she said.
“Coming here, that was an adjustment,” Snell said.
Oftentimes people would ask her what she does and she’d reply, telling them she works for the fire department. People would then ask what she does there with expectations.
“They expect me to say I’m the secretary or something like that [and I’m] like ‘I’m a firefighter,” she said. “They’re like ‘What? Really? I didn’t know there were female firefighters.’”
Having her mind set to become a firefighter since she was little, she found nothing strange about being a woman in her career. It’s a different perception she had to realize, but one she’s proud to be advancing through.
As corporal, she still does her regular firefighter duties, but if a sergeant happens to be out sick or on vacation -- something along those lines -- she is certified to act in that position, drive the truck, and manage the equipment on-scene.
The process for this certification includes having “Fire One” and “Fire Two” certifications; take classes; finish oral and practical objectives for the lieutenant to sign off on; and take a few tests.
Once this process was done, Snell had to check off with the training officer who then cleared her for the promotion.
The promotion also made her the only firefighter in the department to be both a corporal and a medic. It’s a testament to the department’s diversity, Chief Jeff Thibodeau said.
“These firefighters are majority guys. Well now these young girls that they go see in school, they have somebody they can look up to and role model after,” he said. “Kristen is definitely a positive role model.”
And she’s one that’s surely deserving of the position, Thibodeau said. Hard working, intelligent and a joy to be around is how he characterizes Snell. Nothing was given to her.
“She earned every bit of it,” Thibodeau said. “I wish I had 10 more just like her.”
Snell said the promotion gave her a strange but joyful feeling. Becoming corporal gives her seniority, something she hasn’t felt since she came to the department more than two years ago.
She was the most recent hire that had to go through fire school as well as “Fire One and Two” certification training. She was at the bottom of the bottom of the totem pole, she said.
“It feels nice to have accomplished something. I actually feel like I’m moving forward and moving up,” Snell said. “It’s awesome, I guess.”