Annapolis Fire Department Promotes First Female Fire Lieutenant

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- A self-proclaimed tomboy, Kelly Martin grew up more interested in toy soldiers than in dolls; the stories she made up were more like ``Cops'' than fairy tales.

Now 34, the President's Hill woman is breaking new ground as the first female fire lieutenant in the Annapolis Fire Department's history.

``It's not easy,'' she said of her movement up through the ranks. ``But they always say nothing good comes easy.''

Martin joined the department as a firefighter and cardiac rescue technician in September 1992. She was promoted to the rank of lieutenant with the department's Fire Suppression Branch on July 1.

She was previously a lieutenant with the Emergency Medical Services Branch, a position she'll maintain until an opening is available on the fire suppression side.

For now, she'll wear two hats, acting Fire Chief Michael Lonergan said.

The promotion comes as the department struggles to diversify its staff following stinging criticisms of its minority hiring practices. Chief Lonergan hopes Martin's success will encourage other women and minorities to join the department.

Martin didn't always fancy firefighting. She hoped to be a police officer while growing up on the Eastern Shore, and even spent two years as a cadet with the Natural Resources Police.

Then her life took a different turn: She got married and had a son, Taylor, now 14. It made her hesitate when the Natural Resources Police asked her to spend six months at a residential training facility _ the last step in reaching her police officer dreams.

``I had a new baby and I didn't want to leave,'' said Martin, who didn't want to burden her parents with caring for the newborn. ``It was very overwhelming.''

She turned the department down and shifted her attention to emergency medicine, something she'd taken a liking to while doing emergency training with the police department.

Taking a job at a local bank by day, she began volunteering at night with her then-husband at the Queenstown Volunteer Fire Department. There she learned how to do an intravenous injection, how to stabilize a patient on a backboard, and other skills necessary to become an emergency medical technician.

First aid courses at Anne Arundel Community College and the Baltimore City Fire Academy bolstered her lifesaving skills, and when a friend told her the Annapolis Fire Department was hiring medics in 1991, Martin jumped at the chance. A lengthy testing process remained.

``It was about a six-month adventure,'' she said. ``When I got the letter that said, 'We're bringing you on,' it was like 'Woo-hoo!'''

Getting her latest promotion was equally challenging, requiring long periods of study that were difficult to wedge into a busy paramedic's schedule.

``As far as training and studying, sometimes it was a luxury,'' she said. ``(But) I was hellbent on being the first.''

Martin's new position is mostly supervisory. Her duties include overseeing a crew of two to eight firefighters and serving as incident commander at fire scenes. Should the situation arise, however, the 5-foot-2, 115-pound lieutenant might also have to fight fires.

``I have to be able to do the job I expect my crew to do,'' said Martin, who's worked on an engine before. ``I've got to work twice as hard.''

Martin is now married to Lt. Joseph Martin III, also of the Annapolis Fire Department. And she has added daughters Ashley, 7, and Olivia, 2, to her family. She embraces her image as a role model for young women and offers sage advice.

``Expect to give 100 percent,'' she said. ``I wasn't given anything special, and I wouldn't have wanted it that way.''

Information from: The Capital