First woman firefighter in Ardmore

By: Teddy Safo Email
By: Teddy Safo Email

ARDMORE, OK -- History has been made at a local fire department. The city of Ardmore has hired its first female firefighter.

Wednesday, was Whitney Edwards' first day on the job and our own Teddy Safo caught up with her to see the newest member of the Ardmore Fire Department.

Ardmore's Fire Department has been around since 1895; 113 years later, 20-year-old Whitney Edwards can say she'll be the first woman ever to fight fires for the Ardmore Fire Department.

New Mexico native Whitney Edwards was the only woman volunteer firefighter in her hometown of Angel Fire. Now, she's the only woman fighting fires for the city of Ardmore; the first in the department’s 113 year history

"I didn’t believe it at first; took a lot of convincing from family,” she says. “It’s just a huge accomplishment."

Edwards' Shift Commander Darin Butler says a few women have tried to join the department, but they just couldn't pass the rigorous and intense physical tests. "She was really determined to be part of the team; [she has a] down to earth attitude, willing to learn and that’s what were looking for," he says.

She had to carry 125 pounds, 100 feet without stopping during the training. She doesn’t even weigh 125 pounds and had to run a mile-and-a-half in 13 minutes.

"We knew she had an excellent chance and getting on and being our first," Butler says.

Edwards says she's proud of accomplishing what no other woman has in the department’s more than a century history.

The excitement of being a firefighter and wanting to help others is something she intends to do for many years to come. "As soon as I figured it out, it became interesting; it became my dream. I want to do it as long as I can," she says.

She actually ended up in Ardmore while visiting some family in Stratford a few months ago. She says she heard about the Ardmore Fire Department and decided to check it out.

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  • by Maryann Location: Edmond on Mar 20, 2011 at 03:10 PM
    Just to let you know, it was told to me that a year or so before I started with Edmond Fire Dept, Ardmore had a woman that worked there for around 6 months. That would have been 1979 or so. I started in 1980 and retired in 2009 as a Driver. Way to go. She might consider testing for Edmond, the pay is much better and so is the equipment/stations. And yes women can handle the job of firefighter, I did for 28 years.
  • by Concerned Location: Ardmore on Jun 12, 2008 at 07:56 AM
    Did everyone see what Anonymous , New Mexico has written. We need to find out more about this so called young lady. Anonymous speak up. Help these guys out!!!!
  • by Anonymous Location: New Mexico on Jun 5, 2008 at 01:35 PM
    you should be worried and the guy who said there is a reason she isn't in New Mexico for a reason is right!!! There is a reason... TO THE ARDMORE FD be VERY CAREFUL! GOOD LUCK! There will be more headlines to come I'm sure.
  • by john Location: yukon on May 8, 2008 at 01:05 AM
    As a firefighter and a past Ardmore firefighter I feel sorry for them. yes sorry. we all set back watching the testing of applicants and hope like hell that a woman doesn't pass. Because we all know if one does pass they will be hired automatically. sucks for you guys. I just wish we could get rid of ours before she gets someone hurt. The people who hired her look good but the people who have to carry her because she can't do the job are the ones who'll pay. I bet you anything that when she tested she was not the best just the only female. When someone's life is on the line politics should not play a role. After this hire it will probably be another 113 years before they ever consider hiring another female to do anything but sit at the front desk.
  • by Roy Location: past Ardmore firefighter on Mar 7, 2008 at 04:59 PM
    To you "Durant James" I was able to do my job very effectively. I lifted weights and ran on a daily basis while I was employed at the Ardmore Fire Department. Sir I weighed #215 and could bench #375.Ran 1.5 miles in 11 minutes. That being said I know first hand what it takes to drag hose, load hose and all the other grunt work involved here. I was physically capable and exhausted after a common structure fire. Do you realize that Ardmore only has 10 firefighters on shift daily? This is what is considered a "full shift". Normally there are 3 personel off on most all shifts bringing this number down to 7. Take in to account that you have a shift commander and driver who are outside of a structure fire at all times, and this leaves you with 5 to fight fire with.2 in 2 out & 1 for back up.Response time is delayed from 3 different locations thru out the city. So fire fighters here are overloaded already and if they have to help carry Whitney they will be struggling more. Roy
  • by God's Gift to Women Location: Ardmore on Mar 3, 2008 at 04:09 PM
    The woman should be at home cooking and cleaning for her man and taking care of the kids.
  • by revolutiongirl Location: Ardmore on Mar 2, 2008 at 07:50 PM
    Lynn- how dumb to say that about Ardmore. Or do you just like to hear bad news? The media should report MORE positive stories like this. We can't get through the news without deaths, shootings, robbery, murders, molestations and so forth. Then you comment about Ardmore for being backward (since, of course, you are an expert)for giving light to something good. Maybe you are the one that is backwards and loves the bad stories. Great job Whitney. Great job Ardmore.
  • by Cindy Location: Madill on Mar 2, 2008 at 11:59 AM
    I have to make a comment about this one. Could you please tell me what you mean when you say a woman should not put themself in a mans world? How racist does that sound? That would be like saying men could not be nurses, or teachers "cause thats a womans job!" We all know (well most of us) that everyone is created equal in the sight of God and should be in the sight of everyone else as well. It also goes to show you that women have to work harder and in most cases with less pay to even get the respect most men get ALWAYS! If EVERYONE would teach their family that women should have just as much respect as men then we would not have these men that think they are superior to woman. This is for Lynn from Sherman and everyone else that thinks the way he or she thinks, Ardmore is probably as "backward" as SHERMAN! In closing I would like to say suck it up and BE A MAN and quit trying to blame every circumstance on a woman!!
  • by william hung Location: california on Mar 1, 2008 at 09:08 PM
    forrow your dweams, whitney
  • by Congratulations Whitney! Location: Oklahoma on Mar 1, 2008 at 04:02 PM
    If she is able to pass the rigorous tests just like men then she deserves a chance to be a firefighter just like the men. WAY TO GO WHITNEY!
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Sherman 4201 Texoma Pkwy (903) 892 -8123 Ardmore 2624 S. Commerce (580) 223-0946
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