First Female Firefighter

Betty Tomko began her public service career just east of Twinsburg in Aurora, Ohio. In 1978, Betty broke a gender barrier that once seemed so prevalent: she became the first firefighter, paramedic, and fire inspector in the history of Twinsburg, positions traditionally held by men in a profession traditionally associated with masculinity. Serving with Twinsburg for three and a half years, she made her way amid rampant sexism and stereotypes.

In her interview for the bicentennial she confessed, “It was tough in some ways. There were two men who eventually quit the fire department and that’s on the records at the police department. They named me as the reason they left because they didn’t want to work with a woman.” While her employment opened the door for other women hoping to protect and serve the people of Twinsburg, the firehouse remains a predominantly male domain. As of 2016, only one of the twenty-nine full-time firefighters and paramedics with the TFD was female.

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