GREAT FALLS — Maren Reilly took the oath of office on Tuesday and became the first female fire officer at Great Falls Fire Rescue. Fire Chief Jeremy Jones conducted the ceremony, administering the oath and promoting her to the rank of lieutenant. Maren’s husband Eric pinned her new gold lieutenant badge on her uniform, and her parents pinned her new collar brass on.
In 1982, the City of Great Falls hired the first paid female firefighter in the state, breaking barriers and opening doors for women in the modern day fire service industry. But since then, not many women have joined the Great Falls Fire Rescue team.
“Well, we haven’t had a lot of females apply to Great Falls,” said Jones. “We did have a female firefighter, the first one in the state, back long before I got hired, and she didn’t stick around long enough to make officer, but I don’t know a lot of the history there. Maren is the first of our generation and now we have Brooke Wells also, who is a firefighter paramedic, and is about three years into her career.”
Reilly’s journey to this new position took a lot of time and hard work. She started out as any other firefighter at Great Falls Fire Rescue in 2011, and worked her way up to Firefighter One and Two, and then on to Senior Firefighter. She was then moved to the next step on the promotional ladder, which is Fire Engineer.
When applying for Fire Engineer or any higher position, candidates are required to take a test, and the selected applicant is appointed directly by the Fire Chief.
Reilly then went through a similar process to earn her position as Lieutenant, and was officially appointed at Tuesday's ceremony.
The lieutenant position also requires a minimum of seven years combined experience as a firefighter and above positions, along with book work, assessments, and physical training. The job is designed to train lieutenants to eventually become Fire Captains, by receiving focused training, learning how to lead an engine company, and even taking over as Fire Captain during times when they’re away from the job.
There are eight lieutenants that serve in the Great Falls Fire Rescue Department.
Reilly credited her success and accomplishments to the people who have helped her along her path to this promotion: “Well, it’s super humbling... I’m super humbled to continue to serve the City at this capacity, well a different capacity, but the same thing, just a little different. I have a lot of people that I owe the credit to. You know, I’m not standing here because I did anything special, there’s so many people, my family, so many people here, The Lord, that I just want to give credit to.”
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