Allie Kirkman | September 24, 2019
SOUTH BEND — Two women are smashing the University of Notre Dame Fire Department‘s gender barrier.
Michelle Woolverton and Christi Shibata were sworn in recently as the department’s first-ever full-time female firefighters since its inception 140 years ago. Woolverton, 42, started with NDFD in August and Shibata, 37, in July.
“I never would have thought that my dream was actually going to come true,” Woolverton said, “and it has.”
NDFD Fire Chief Bruce Harrison said he has been “exceptionally pleased” with the work Woolverton and Shibata have contributed to the team so far.
Having the two join the oldest university fire department in the United States has been a blessing, Harrison said. He said the firefighters serve as “good representatives for this fire department,” bringing him optimism for the future.
“You look for people who have heart and passion for the job. You have to have the right attitude, empathy and a genuine concern for people and want to serve,” Harrison said, pointing out that Woolverton and Shibata bring all those traits to the table.
“We didn’t give them the job. They earned the opportunity to be firefighters.”
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