SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (WJMN) – “There is nothing that should deter you from joining the fire service,” said Rachel Vallad, firefighter/EMT, Sault Ste. Marie Fire Department. “If you’re willing to work hard, you can absolutely make it a reality.”

Rachel Vallad has made that a reality serving as a firefighter/EMT for the City of Sault Ste. Marie.

“My interest started when I went to Lake State which I originally went to for criminal justice,” said Vallad. “A lot of the classes tend to overlap and I found my passion with it during those fire classes and so I switched over and realized I had a very big interest for it and I could also serve my community.”

Being a new member of fire department, she has goals that go far past the daily requirements.

“Be able to start some community outreach programs especially geared towards younger girls and younger boys as well to encourage them to join the fire service because unfortunately, people think it’s not a viable career option for them but in reality, it really is,” said Vallad. “It’s a great way to serve your community.”

Vallad is living history in the fire department. She is Sault Ste. Marie Fire Department’s first female hire ever.

“I’ve been shown the upmost respect here,” said Vallad. “They are just as excited to have me as I am to be here and have encouraged me the entire way.”

With no female role models in this industry to guide her along the way, she still has found the confidence to shine in this career.

“I have had role models at this department and others,” said Vallad. “Unfortunately, I’ve never had a female role model in the fire service because unfortunately, there just isn’t very many. A lot of my mentors at the department have always been right in my corner encouraging me to go farther than what I think is possible.”

Vallad hopes others take the leap of faith she did and serve their community in this way.

“Don’t be afraid because everyday is going to be a challenge whether you want it to be or not, it’s the reality of the world and you just kind of have to take it one step at a time,” said Vallad. “How I say it is, if you train hard, you’re going to succeed because you’re going to have your skills in your corner now. So now, you can use the training that you’ve done and now you can implement that and you just need a little bit of confidence to be able to do your job very well and have the courage to do it.”