Rochester's first African-American woman firefighter

July 22, 2017 12:46 AM

Rochester marked a first Friday night as the first African-American woman took the oath of office to join the Rochester Fire Department.

Alissa Turner is the first African-American woman to complete the Rochester Fire Academy. Turner joined a class of 19 new recruits who became firefighters on Friday night.


"I knew that I wanted to help the community," Turner said. "I didn't know how. I came back from Afghanistan. I didn't know how I wanted to help or what I wanted to do."

Turned graduated from Wilson Magnet High School, and then joined the Army. When she came home, her grandmother became ill and needed assistance. Someone called 911 and that experience changed her life.

"Unfortunately my grandmother passed away," Turner said. "But during that day, Engine 5 from Lyell Avenue (responded). So the RFD was there for me."

At that moment, Turner decided to become a Rochester firefighter. Captain Kevin Kolb was In charge of this year’s recruit class.

"She's very respectful," Kolb said of Turner. "She knows what's expected of her. She's kind of a leader in the class. She's what we're looking for."

While others are focusing on Turner's accomplishments, she is anxious to get to work.

"I just have so much I got to learn," Turner said. "So I'm just excited to get out there and get started."

Turner joins 15 other female firefighters in the Rochester Fire Department. They represent only three percent of the 480 Rochester firefighters.

Nationally, five percent of firefighters are women.


Lynette Adams

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