Miami Fire-Rescue Vet Still Smokin'

After 24 years, Julie Padelford-Jansen a role model for would-be female firefighters

Julie Padelford-Jansen loves her job, but like most civil servants in Miami, she has a few qualms.

"It's not glamorous whatsoever. It's dirty, it's hot, and it's a lot of work," she said.

The heat she's referring to isn't a lack of A/C in her building, but rather the dangerous flames Jansen battles whenever her job requires it.

You see, Jansen is no 9-to-5-er. After 24 years of service with the City of Miami's Fire-Rescue, Jansen is a veteran smoke-eater whose life saving credentials are top notch.

As a paramedic, a Technical Rescue Team specialist and a SWAT Medic, Jansen has seen it all on the gritty streets of Miami, and as just one of 39 women in a force of 660, she's had a tougher road than most. 
Nevertheless, Padelford-Jansen said she wouldn't trade her job for anything.

"It fulfills your passions in a lot of ways that other jobs cannot," she said.
Why are there so few women in the department? Fire-Rescue's Lt. Veldora Arthur said the physical requirements are tough for anyone -- man or woman.

"It's very competitive now, much more competitive than what it used to be," Lt. Arthur said.

Every firefighter has to complete a "must pass" physical agility test, which includes carrying hoses up flights of stairs, swinging sledge hammers at metal blocks and dragging 165-pound dummies to safety.

"Prepare yourself physically for this type of demanding job, take the time to be prepared," Lt. Arthur said.

Jansen says the payoff is worth all the physical and mental stress.

"You go home some days knowing that you made a difference," Jansen said. "Because you were at work that day, somebody lived."

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