Murfreesboro's first female firefighter retires after 32 years - WSMV Channel 4

Murfreesboro's first female firefighter retires after 32 years of service

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Mary Madding worked at the Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department for 32 years. Mary Madding worked at the Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department for 32 years.
MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) -

She's seen a lot of change and was ready for one of her own. Murfreesboro's first female firefighter has retired. It's been a tough journey at times, but a rewarding one.

"I worked four days a week, 10 hours a day, and I was probably smaller than I am now, but I was tough," said Mary Madding.

Madding retired this week, but she was tough enough for 32 years of service with the Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department.

"I just walked into the unemployment office one day and the fire station was next door, so I just went in and asked for an application," she said.

Little did the 29-year-old out of work single mother know that she would make history as Murfreesboro's first woman firefighter.

"She didn't want to be treated any different. And that's what was so great about her. She was one of the guys," said firefighter Steve Melton.

Madding said these guys are family now, but it wasn't always easy to fit in.

"I knew nothing about tools. I knew nothing about the truck. I knew nothing about anything," she said.

"I had a captain that told me, actually Capt. Jones, he's retired. I told him I couldn't do this. And he said, 'You can do this, Mary. I'm going to help you. You can do it,'" Madding added.

Times have changed over the years. Now, there's a woman captain, a woman assistant chief and three women firefighters with the Murfreesboro Fire Department.

Madding said she's proud of the changes, but even more proud of the work the women and men at the Murfreesboro Fire Department do.

"When you can go into a first responder call and help someone, it's gratifying, you know," she said.

Now she walks out with that pride, still humble and fulfilled.

"To live somewhere all of your life and to give back to the community where you live, you know, it's a good thing," she said.

Madding already has plans for her retirement. She's planning on spending time with her grandchildren and baking cookies.

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