DELAND, Fla - A new hire at the DeLand Fire Department marked a historical moment for the community.
Daytona Beach native Dejah Woods became the department’s first African-American firefighter to ever work at the department.
"I’ve always wanted to serve for my country," she said.
After medical issues, Dejah let go of her dream of going to the service, and thanks to encouragement from a high school coach, she decided to go into firefighting.
"My football coach, her husband was a fireman for New Smyrna. And both of them was.. you know you’d be a bomb fireman," she said.
Fire chief Todd Allen said it’s a sign change is happening.
"As I grew up, all the toys I played with, all the little firefighter toys, they were all male and this has been a profession that’s been highly dominated by white males and we see the barriers breaking," he said.
The city said Black firefighters make up 7.5% of all firefighters in the United States, with Black female firefighters making up an even smaller percentage.
As for Dejah, she hopes to now be a voice of encouragement to others.
"If I can be that person to let little girls know you know it’s a possibility you can be where I’m at too that’s definitely something that I would want to do," she said.
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