All month long we’ve been celebrating woman here on KX news.
Nathalie Gomez introduces us to Minot Fire Chief Kelli Kronschnabel.
There are fewer than 50 female fire chiefs in the nation according to Chief Kelli.
“As a trend, there have been fewer women in the fire service — which is unfortunate,” said Kronschnabel.
Being the only career fire chief in the state of North Dakota, she’s been trying to change that trend, and she’s doing it starting with her department.
“We add something to the shift the crew that an all-male environment doesn’t have,” said Kronschnabel.
She spent 23 years in the fire service and she said it hasn’t always been easy especially being a female in a male-dominated occupation.
“I know I’m under a microscope — I know that I have to prove myself and I have to earn the title of chief. I have to earn the respect and the trust of my crew, my community. And that’s okay. It just pushes me to be better,” said Kronschnabel.
Some women might think being a firefighter is something that can’t be done. Chief Kelli says otherwise.
“Definitely it is something that woman can definitely do, but they are going to have to put in the work ahead of time,” said Kronschnabel.
Hard work and dedication have gotten Chief Kelli where she is now and in the last year, she’s hired two women to her department.
The last time female firefighters were on the Minot crew was in the ’90s.
“They have done a really good job through the academy and they’re on the trucks now and they’re doing great in their career,” said Kronschnabel.
What’s kept her going for 23 years?
“When I was an engine captain, we had three fires that year and we had people inside each one of them– those three stick out for me,” sais Kronschnabel.
“It was the first time that I ever experienced someone inside a building when I was fighting fire, actively fighting a fire and it just really changed my whole outlook on my position and my career, wow, this really does make an impact.”
She hopes to continue making that same impact not only in her community but also within her department.
Before her firefighter career started, Cheif Kelli was looking into being a police officer.