Mandan Fire Dept Hires First Full-Time Female Firefighter
You May Have Missed It!
The Mandan Fire Department brought aboard Mersiha Arapovic full-time back in January. Now, the department has had women serve in part-time positions in the past, but never full-time.
A special mention of Arapovic was made in the April addition of the Mandan e- Newsletter. Naturally, I had to reach out and learn more.
About Mersiha Arapovic:
She has been working part-time for Mandan Fire since 2019. Currently, she works as BOTH a firefighter and a part-time EMT for Metro-Area Ambulance. She's also enrolled in the Paramedic Program at Bismarck State College AND works part time as a Security Officer for one of the local hospitals. --Talk about busy!
Arapovic was born in Germany! She moved to Florida when she was a kid, then made her way to North Dakota. And... she isn't all work. I'm not sure how she finds time, but Arapovic told me she has a few hobbies. She lifts weights, runs, and spends time with her dog, Fearien.
About The Job:
I asked Arapovic: what's the most challenging thing about working as a firefighter; she told me, from one day to the next, you never know what's going to happen.
"Whether it be a fire call or a medical call, they are all different. I'm still new to my role so I'm still learning every day but with the support of my crew, who are more like family, I never feel like I can't do something," said Arapovic.
What's It Like Wearing All That Gear?
As a woman who legitimately struggles with opening jars, lifting heavy objects, and gets a little winded getting off of the couch, I had to ask... What's it like wearing all of that gear?
"The first time I put all my gear on, I was surprised at how heavy everything was. Not to mention going on air is a completely different experience. It takes time to get used to but once you get the hang of it, you can do it in your sleep," said Arapovic.
Is It Scary?
"The only thing that scares me in this field, is what happens when I can't get to a victim that's trapped in a fire or a downed Firefighter. It's a scary thing to think about but you have to be prepared for worse case scenarios," said Arapovic.
So, What Originally Lit Her Fire?
Arapovic says she doesn't have any other female first responders in her family, so I asked where her passion came from... what made her want to pursue a career as a firefighter.
"I felt like I wasn't doing enough in life. I hadn't finished school and also new that my current career path at the time was not something I wanted to do forever. I saw a posting for a Firefighter position with the City of Mandan and applied. I was hired on the department as a part timer in June of 2019 and never looked back," said Arapovic.
Are There Other Women Firefighters In The Area?
Yes! While Arapovic is the first woman for Mandan's department, there are other women working for Bismarck Rural Fire and The City of Bismarck.
"I do hope that more women pursue a career in the Fire community. It's such a rewarding career and we need more women in this industry," said Arapovic.
Arapovic said she hopes she can be a role model to young girls in our community, and her role models are the people she works with every day...
"My role models are all the men at the Mandan Fire Department. I wouldn't be half the Firefighter I am today without them. Especially my B-Shift crew who took me in with open arms and made me feel like part of the family," said Arapovic.
And On Being First?
Arapovic says she's honored.
"I am honored to be the first full time female firefighter at The Mandan Fire Department. Forget being a female in this industry, its hard in general to get a position as a Firefighter. This has been my dream for the last couple of years and was in shock when I finally got it," said Arapovic.
What's Next For Arapovic?
She told me she plans to finish paramedic school and wants to continue to learn and train so she can be proficient in her position.
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