Job loss leads to new career - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Job loss leads to new career

February 6, 2008

Thomasville -- Yolanda Hill never realized when she lost her job, it be the first step toward making history.

The 35-year-old wife and mother of two was forced to make a career change. She decided to don a helmet and boots, and she became the first African-American female firefighter in Thomas County history.

A year ago Hill was faithfully going to her job everyday at Simmons Outdoor Optics. "Out there I was an optic repair technician. I repaired rifle scopes and binoculars. And that's pretty much what I did for 10 years," said Hill.

When they abruptly decided to move to California, nearly 30 people were left with severance packages instead of jobs.

 "I was looking in the paper like everybody do, going to the unemployment office like everybody do. And the firefighter position came up," said Hill.

Hill thought a job in law enforcement or as a first responder would be exciting, but wasn't sure she'd have the chance to do it. She put in an application. "The ball went rolling from there."

Hill was hired at Station 11 in Coolidge, but first she had to go through rigorous training at the Fire Academy in Forsyth.

 "Outside the class room we were trained with live fire and burning buildings, different types of scenarios,"  Hill said.

She says the hardest part was leaving her family behind for four weeks.  "It was something that I know I had to do, but I was skeptical about it. But with all the support that I had behind me, I went on and seen it through," said Hill.

See it through she did, and without meaning to, made history.

"The only thing I was looking for was a job. That's it. I mean talking about making history, becoming the first African-American female firefighter. . .  That didn't enter my mind at all."

Now Hill hopes she can set an example for women everywhere that they can do anything they put their mind to.

Hill has worked at with Thomas County Fire Rescue for the last six months.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=Firewoman-SB

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