Woman Overcomes Tumor To Become Columbus, Ohio Firefighter

As flames climbed the wall and spread across the bedroom ceiling of a vacant house on Cleveland Avenue in Linden, Trina McCoy's heart raced.

The emotional services can last hours, and McCoy finds them a respite to prepare for another week.

Final hurdles

Back on Cleveland Avenue, after McCoy blew the plywood off the house, she and her squad members - Joe Leffe, Dave Long and Jeff Mills - pulled down burnt wood from the bedroom ceiling as black soot landed on their shoulders.

The heat had melted part of McCoy's helmet - a badge of honor for a firefighter.

They were in the burning house for 15 minutes.

Once outside, they squatted on the front lawn and turned off one another's air-tank valves. The bells indicating they were low on air finally were silent.

``That was pretty cool,'' she said to Long as both of them smiled.

``Yeah, the fire went up in the attic, and stuff kept falling,'' Long added.

``We had to pull down the ceiling. I shot the window out with water,'' she said. ``It looks pretty bad. I think they were planning to use that room a little more.''

She used the sleeve of her T-shirt to wipe the sweat from her forehead. Usually reserved, McCoy couldn't contain her excitement.

``It's about saving lives and people's property,'' she said, smiling ear to ear. ``It's what I've wanted to do since before my daughter was born.''

Sweet graduation

The long wait and hard work culminated July 9 at the academy.

Moments before her graduation ceremony, fellow recruits and firefighters stopped in the hallway to congratulate her. McCoy couldn't stop smiling.

``I always saw the light at the end of the tunnel,'' she said. ``It just took so long.''

She relished every moment of the hourlong ceremony - the marching, the bagpipes, the speeches.

Then the moment she'd worked for arrived.

``Trina C. McCoy,'' Capt. Blair announced.

Her family members and friends - 14 in all - screamed as she walked across the stage and took her certificate from Mayor Michael B. Coleman.

``I grabbed it so hard, I bent it,'' she said. ``I was so excited.''