Female firefighter breaks down barriers
TOLLAND — Julia Meyer is living her dream of becoming a firefighter and breaking down barriers in the process.
Meyer, 22, was hired as Tolland Fire Department's first female career firefighter in November, but her journey began in 2015, when she joined the department's Explorer program, which teaches teens the fundamentals of firefighting and emergency services.
She became captain of the Explorer program and in 2018, she joined the department as a volunteer.
On the day she interviewed for the full-time position, "I was covering a per diem shift, and they called me back to the training center to tell me," Meyer said. "I was excited. Proud. I remember being an Explorer and said I wanted to be the first female to work here. I fulfilled a dream I had since I was 15."
Meyer got her first chance to fight a fire last summer.
"Me and my friend got to do the initial attack on it," she said. "I was excited. I completed fire school. I had a basic understanding of what to do."
Tolland Fire Chief John Littell commended Meyer for her drive, saying that she fits in well at the fire station.
"She has blossomed, getting her training and joining the volunteer department," he said. "She continued her training in education through being an emergency medical tech and going to fire school. She's a real 360 individual. She's done very well. We're very proud of her."
Meyer said her other coworkers were happy for her.
"They welcomed me with open arms. It's exciting to work with all my friends," she said.
Though she's the first firefighter in her family, helping others is in her genes. Meyer's father is a police officer but didn't want her to follow in his footsteps.
"He was very excited for me to be a firefighter," Meyer said, adding that her whole family was proud of her decision.
"They've helped me through my whole education to get to where I am," she said.
Meyer said she wants to take her career further, with plans to take fire officer classes and continue her education.