PALM BAY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - The Palm Bay Fire Department announced a new chief this week. Chief Leslie Hoog is not only the first female to hold the job, but she’s also the first female fire chief in Brevard County. Tuesday was her first day on the job.
“It’s very hard to believe that I’m sitting here in this position.” said Hoog. “It’s a big responsibility and you feel it.”
Hoog has been a fire fighter for over 30 years. In that time, she married a fellow firefighter and had two daughters. Those daughters, now women. Hoog hopes she’s an inspiration to them.
“I’ve been lucky in my career that I’ve had strong fire fighters and chiefs beside me that didn't treat me any different than any other male fire fighter. I think it's getting better.”
Currently there are approximately 45 female fire chiefs nationwide.
“Fifty is better than two or three.” noted Hoog, who’s now responsible for one hundred and twenty seven fire fighters.
Doing tasks that in the departments 49 year history, have only ever been done by men.
“It’s not like it use to be, they're getting use to seeing [female fire fighters] out there.”
Hoog remembers her recruitment class, which only had three women in it.
“Back in the 80s, they didn't have female gear or boots, so you just did with what you have. If your boots didn't fit, you'd put newspaper or tissue patper at the end of the boots because the sizes didn't go down that small.”
She said that future generations shouldn’t give up. “Don’t discount and say oh I’m never going to be chief, because you never know.”