Theresa Tickle from Brunswick County, North Carolina, says she loves helping people. That’s what made her pursue career of a firefighter for almost 11 years. Since 2016, Tickle has served as Boiling Spring Lakes’ fire chef. Currently she’s the only female in this position in the Cape Fear region.
In the morning, Theresa heads to her desk job as a records specialist at the Oak Island Police Department. But she spends her evenings, nights and even weekends supervising the Boiling Spring Lakes Volunteer Fire Department.
Tickle does a lot of administrative paperwork, controlling training routines and fire truck maintenance. However, she never hesitates to put on a firefighter gear when it’s necessary.
“It’s just something you love or you don’t, honestly,” she told Star News Online. “And I loved it when I got there.”
Of 1.1 million firefighters in the United States only 7% are women, according to the National Fire Protection Association
Though having both a full-time job and volunteering requires some sacrifice, Theresa says that saving her community from disasters is the best reward one can hope for:
“You go in and even if you just salvage a little bit of their stuff, how grateful they are,” she laughs. “Even EMS calls, just to be there and help them in their worst times, it’s just a good feeling.”
EMS (Emergency Medical Services) was Theresa’s first step to a career of a firefighter. When Tickle moved to Oak Island from South Carolina in 2003, she began volunteering as an emergency medical technician at the fire department.
The woman was required to run both EMS and fire training and found that she enjoyed learning firefighter skills. In 2008, she became a full-time firefighter and the first female signed up by the department.
Theresa served in Oak Island firefighter for eight years. She admits that there were especially tough periods. After all, firefighter’s work is hard and unforgiving, but colleagues she served with did not let her quit:
“Whenever I felt like I couldn’t do it, I could never look them in the eyes and say I couldn’t, so I never gave up, either.”
Theresa became Boiling Spring Lakes fire chief in 2016. Tickle says that she’s honored with her role and does not take it for granted.
For any woman who wants to become a firefighrer, Tickle has only one piece of advice: follow your heart and work hard.
“Do not let negative attitudes determine your path,” she adds. “When you put on the turnout gear, we all do the same job.”
Featured Image: Theresa Tickle/Facebook