For the second time, Jasmine Rice has made history with Thomasville Fire Rescue. Rice was the first African-American female hired with TFR when she joined the department in 2013. On July 14, 2016, she became the first female to ever attain the rank of Engineer with the agency.
"Engineer Rice has made some very big accomplishments during her tenure at TFR," said Fire Chief Chris Bowman. "She joined our department shortly after I became chief in 2013, and it has been very gratifying to watch her grow in her position. I’m very proud of the hard work and dedication she has shown by achieving the rank of Engineer."
Her supervisors agree, adding that Rice has shown a great deal of initiative and determination to learn since joining the department. "Jasmine is all about training and learning," said Captain Jonathan Paschall. "She is very interested in learning more about the service and is constantly asking questions to further her knowledge."
Assistant Chief Mark Sealy said that Rice is very goal oriented. "She is very dedicated to the fire service and committed to the City of Thomasville. It shows in the certifications and credentials she has achieved in the three years that she has been here. Some of those credentials include Advanced Emergency Medical Technician status, Hazardous Material Technician certification, Fire Inspector certification and Fire and Life Safety Educator."
Rice is no stranger to the fire service, having grown up around the Valdosta Fire Department where her father was chief.
"I used to always go up to the station, and I loved the family atmosphere that you have in a fire department," said Rice. "I knew that one day, that was what I wanted for my own career."
Rice’s path to the fire service was detoured a bit by motherhood, but she said that when her children, an 11-year-old son and three-year-old daughter, were ready, she decided to pursue her dream.
"I began looking at communities near Valdosta that would be a good fit for a young family, and Thomasville seemed to fit the bill," she said. "One day, I drove over and came by the fire station. I stopped in and learned that there was an opening, so I applied that day."
Being a female was not a factor in the hiring process, and Rice participated in the same activities that were required of her male counterparts. Assistant Chief Sealy said that he remembers Rice being very well prepared for the interview and the fitness testing. "She handled everything that was asked of her, right down to carrying the 165-pound dummy that is used to simulate real-world rescue situations," he said.
Rice said that her family was very proud of her decision to pursue the fire service as a career, with her father being especially supportive.
"I think he always knew that this was where I would end up," she said. "He knew that even at an early age, I always had a desire to be a part of the fire service."
According to Fire Chief Bowman, all Engineer-candidates go through a rigorous promotional process that consists of written exams, fire pumping scenarios, and a driving course test that includes driving and operating the 100’ Aerial Ladder. "When she took the Engineer promotional exam for the first time earlier this year, she got the results she was hoping for, and passed all six phases," said Chief Bowman. "I’m very pleased to now be able to make Engineer Rice’s promotion official."
In her new role, Rice will respond to fire and medical calls while also being responsible for safely driving her company of fellow firefighters to emergency scenes. In addition, she will manage daily shift responsibilities as an Engineer. "She will also have the opportunity to step up as the acting Company Officer on occasion," said Chief Bowman.
Rice and her fellow TFR promotion recipients will be formally recognized for their achievements at the City Council meeting scheduled for August 22, 2016.