KENTWOOD’S FLAMING FEMALE
By Noelle Jacobs
KENTWOOD, MI ¬– Rebecca Wood can jump into her boots as quickly as any firefighter responding to a call, but what sets her apart from her colleagues, or “brothers,” is the simple fact that she is a female–the only female firefighter in Kentwood.
It’s not uncommon to have female firefighters; Wood’s aunt serves in Grand Rapids along with several other women. But for some reason, it’s a common misconception that firefighters are stereotypically men.
“It’s sad and unfortunate that people don’t think women can do this,” says Kentwood Deputy Chief Gregory Ginebaugh as he sends Wood a grin across his high tech office. “There’s no sort of discrimination at all, she’s one of us.”
Her locker is with the others, her bed is in the same bunkroom, her appetite even seems to be the same–she fits in perfectly, what else does she need?
A sense of Humor?
She’s got it.
Wood recalls a prank on one of the guys at the station.
“He’s a deep sleeper and his biggest fear is not waking up to an alarm.”
What do you think Wood did? Well, she ran into the dark bunkroom with the other guys one night, dressed in gear, engines started and ready to go fight a ‘fire.’
“He got ready really fast and we drove around the block, then pulled back in. ‘Guys, what’s going on?,” he remarked in a confused state.
I wouldn’t trade her for anyone else.” Ginebaugh stated. He knows she’s one of a kind. “The way she deals with families in the community…” His face-breaking smile describes his gratitude towards Wood.
She also serves at a burn camp near Portage for fire survivors, ages five through nineteen.
“The kids are so great!” Her face lights up with excitement as she sits straight in her chair. “It’s a place where they can be themselves and not worry about what they look like. It’s just really cool.”
She’s quite the outdoorsy type, too. Outside of work, Wood enjoys biking through trails, kayaking and fishing. But her true passion is back at the station, serving the community and hanging out with the guys.
“It makes me more grateful for this job,” she says. “It feels like family. Not everyone will get along, but we call each other brothers and sisters.”
Tomboyish? Absolutely, but her eyeliner is a reminder that she’s just like every woman, beautiful and captivating, only with a very bright burning flame.
I wouldn’t trade her for anyone else.” Ginebaugh said realizing she is one of a kind. “The way she deals with families in the community…” His face-breaking smile describes his gratitude towards Wood.