Mom breaks glass ceiling, becomes first woman sworn in as Fairfield firefighter in nearly 30 years


FAIRFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) – Only four percent of the firefighters in our country are women, according to the Women in Fire organization.

The town of Fairfield has hired its first female firefighter in a quarter-century. The woman at the center of this story is no stranger to breaking glass ceilings.

It was a simple swearing-in full of smiles and a daughter pinning her mother, newly sworn-in firefighter Caitlin Clarkson Pereira.

“It feels incredible to put on this uniform,” Clarkson Pereira said.

67 recruits at the State Fire Academy graduated last week in Bloomfield, including Clarkson Pereira. All of them completed months of training and there were only a few women in the newest class of firefighters, but they excelled.

RELATED: Connecticut Fire Academy graduates diverse class of over 60 recruits

There are 90 men on shift. Clarkson Pereira is the first woman hired in nearly 30 years.

“I will be the first woman on. It feels like a big responsibility, but I’m excited and humbled to be able to do it,” Clarkson Pereira said.

“When you think of the work that we do, the contact that we make with the public, that diversity of opinion thought and gender in the city is important. It makes us better as a fire department,” said Chief Dennis McCarthy, Fairfield Fire Department.

Not only is the mom changing the fire department dynamic in her town, but she spearheaded a new state law allowing parents running for office to use the citizen’s election fund for daycare. Though she lost her election, she may run again. For now, her dream of becoming a firefighter is front and center.

“It sends a really clear message that you can do anything you want as a young girl, as a woman. Whatever the gender norms or stereotypes are, it may create some barriers for us, but it doesn’t mean it’s something that’s impossible for us to do,” Clarkson Pereira said.

She is now proudly wearing helmet number 30. Caitlin’s first shift is Christmas Eve.

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