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Making history: Auburn Fire promotes first female fire apparatus engineer

Shelby Davis is now in the driver's seat, a dream that's also more than a century in the making for the Auburn Fire Department.

AUBURN, Calif — Shelby Davis is making history at the Auburn City Fire Department. Davis is the first female fire apparatus engineer in the history of the department. That means she's the first female to drive the engine in the City of Auburn.

"It's a little distracting. Occasionally we will get to calls and it's like, 'Oh, a female is driving.' I've had quite the rapport in the community of support through everyone," Davis said.

It wasn't an easy feat. She had to train, test and compete against six other candidates for the position. But it was a dream she's had since she was little. Her father and grandfather are also firefighters with Cal Fire.

"Being an engineer for the Auburn City Fire Department is an absolute honor. It's been always a dream of mine to drive the big red fire truck," Davis said.


She knew going into this industry, it was dominated by men. Women make up just five percent of all firefighters, according to the US Department of Labor

The national average paints a similar picture in California, too. For nearly every 100 men there's one female fire apparatus engineer. 

In general, women make up a little under 1 percent of fire apparatus engineers. Why so low? Women in Fire says recruitment is huge, but also a cultural change needs to happen for women to feel accepted in the fire industry.

"It's a great honor. It's not about the first woman particularly. It s a momentous occasion to be able to say that Shelby brings a great deal of skill sets. And we recognize that the fire department is rich in tradition and history, and so this is just one of those mile markers as we move forward in a relevant and contemporary fire department that represents the community we serve," said Fire Chief Dave Spencer.

Davis is ready to serve her community in the driver's seat and hopes someday she'll run more than just calls, she'll run shifts.

"My future goal is to strive to become a captain someday," Davis said.

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