‘A whole bunch of big brothers’: City’s only female firefighter says she loves new career

Published 7:00 am Sunday, April 30, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Jermeshia Queen, 20, of Natchez, has a message for other women here: You can have a rewarding and successful career in firefighting.

Queen began work as a Natchez Fire Department firefighter on Feb. 11. She is going through on-the-job training until the next class at the Mississippi Fire Academy.

Currently, she is the only woman on the city’s roster of firefighters.

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Assigned to Fire Station No. 2 on John R. Junkin Drive, Queen works shifts of 24 hours on and 48 hours off. It’s the perfect situation for the single mother of a 2-year-old.

“It’s like being a little sister with a whole bunch of big brothers,” she said about life at the fire station.

Queen went to a job fair and wandered over to the table the Natchez Fire Department had set up.

“I started talking to Mrs. Caroline (Deason, personnel and human resources officer for the City of Natchez). She convinced me it would be a good job and I decided I would try to do it,” Queen said.

She applied and first had to take and pass the Civil Service Test and run a mile and a half in less than 14 minutes.

Queen was hired and started her training at the fire department.

“I love it. I love the physical training. I love the adrenaline that comes with putting fires out and helping to save people and saving people’s homes and just being there to help,” she said.

The most memorable fire call to date was helping to save historic Hope Farm on Homochitto Street.

“I actually wasn’t on duty but came out to help,” Queen said.

In addition to the fun she is having on the job, Queen is enjoying all of the benefits of working for the City of Natchez, like “great” health insurance and particularly becoming involved in the state’s PERS retirement plan. Municipal employee like firefighters, who are part of PERS, can retire after 25 years of work with full benefits.

“I would like women to know that they can definitely do this job. Most women look at this job as something that’s for males only. That’s not true. I thought I couldn’t do it at first, but I can do just as much as the men can do at a fire,” Queen said. “I would encourage women to look at firefighting as a career.”