By the Toms River Fire Company No. 1
TOMS RIVER – Until recently, firefighting has been considered a man’s job. But that’s been changing. In the past twenty years the ranks of female firefighters have grown in the U.S. from 2% to 11%.
Women firefighters have proven that they are just as capable as men of doing the strenuous and dangerous work of fighting fires. And they have reaped the satisfaction of serving people at their times of greatest need and becoming part of a team that always has each other’s backs.
Toms River Fire District No. 1 celebrates its women firefighters. Chairman of District No. 1’s Board of Commissioners, Richard Tutela says, “we encourage other women to join us in Saving Lives from Wood to Water.”
Five years ago, Dakota Oeskovic, then 25, was perusing a mailing from the Toms River Fire District No. 1, when she noticed one line, “looking for volunteers.” She was intrigued.
She didn’t know anything about firefighting and had never considered it. She went to Toms River’s website, watched videos, and talked to a female firefighter in the department. Then she was hooked.
“I still remember the excitement I felt – it was a chance to give back to the community I grew up in and challenge myself both mentally and physically,” Oeskovic says.
Five years ago, she joined Toms River Fire District No. 1’s East Dover Fire Company. “It was the best decision I’ve ever made. I have never done anything more gratifying.”
Oeskovic has found being a female firefighter to be particularly rewarding. She once responded to a house call for a fire in a clothes dryer, located a block from where she lives, although she didn’t know the family. After extinguishing the fire, she went on the roof, and a women came running out of the house screaming ecstatically, “I can’t believe you’re a woman firefighter.” Says Oeskovic, “this woman was so proud to see a female firefighter. We are now friends.”
Since joining the department, “I’ve always been treated with the utmost respect and was quickly integrated into the family. I have never felt that any of the men have doubted my abilities. We turn to each other for any problems we have. I love it.”
She encourages women to try firefighting. “Have confidence in yourself and even if you don’t have it, the team will have it for you.”
Because of her passion for fire safety, Oeskovic recently completed fire inspector training. And a few weeks ago, she launched a new career as a fire inspector for the Toms River Bureau of Fire Prevention. She will continue to proudly serve as volunteer firefighter.
If you’re looking to keep your community safe, Fire District No. 1 is always looking for volunteer Firefighters (ages 18 & up); Junior Firefighters (ages 16 & 17), Fire Police, Safety Officers, Administrative Support and Seasonal Roles.
Many volunteers initially join us to make friends, seek fulfillment in their personal lives, or set an example for others. Regardless of your reasons for volunteering, Toms River Fire District No. 1 is here to help you build essential skills to carry with you for life.
Check us out: trfire.org