Kayla Laumann never thought of being a firefighter because she didn’t consider it a female profession.
That all changed when she saw a television commercial with a female firefighter, which lit a spark in her.
Laumann will complete her probationary year with the Bowling Green Fire Division in January.
“I would not want to do anything else,” she said. “It’s not something I chose. It’s something that chose me.”
Laumann spoke Thursday to members of the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club on being a female firefighter.
She is the second female firefighter with the department, with a third going through training this fall.
Laumann, who is a 2017 Perrysburg High School graduate, said she got a degree in hospitality from Bowling Green State University, but didn’t like sitting at a desk.
She wanted adventure.
Laumann said she respected firefighters while growing up and considered it a prestigious job.
“It was never something I thought about, primarily because I had never seen a female firefighter,” she said.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 5% of all career firefighters are women.
Laumann started her career in Perrysburg Township, where she stayed for two years, and also served with the Sylvania department.
While getting EMT training at Owens Community College, she did a ride-along with Bowling Green paramedics.
“I have found love for the small city fire departments,” she said. “I remember sitting in the back of that ambulance (and thinking) this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Laumann completed paramedic training in 2022 and got the job in Bowling Green.
“I love being a medic as well as a firefighter,” she said.
She said while she’s been on one fire call, she has responded to “hundreds” of EMS calls since joining the force.
Laumann said being a female firefighter comes with a lot of challenges.
“But no one in Bowling Green sees the differences,” she said. “That’s one of the best experiences I could ever receive.”
Being a firefighter is a lifestyle, Laumann said.
“I’m a firefighter in the firehouse and outside the firehouse,” she said.
She said she was told during training that “this job is going to be hard, there are going to be very rough days and you’re going to fail. Those days you need to pick yourself up.”
While Laumann was a gymnast and track athlete in high school, she never saw the inside of the gym while at BGSU.
Paramedic school challenged her physically, emotionally and mentally, she said, but it was the most worthwhile education she has ever received.
Her goal is to encourage young women to be the next generation of firefighters and she wants to be a contact for potential female firefighters.
One day she wants to be a department officer and create a program for women who want to try the profession.
“We’re very fortunate to have our three female firefighters,” said Chief Bill Moorman. “They’re doing a fantastic job.”
No concessions were made when adding the women to the department, he said.
“I’ve always said if someone is deserving of an opportunity, they have to earn the right to have the opportunity and these three ladies have certainly done that,” Moorman said.
There are 56 firefighters with the Bowling Green division, with 75% trained to be paramedics.
In answer to a question by Kiwanian Nadine Edwards, Laumann said the hardest thing for her to master was climbing the truck ladders.
She said she had to sing to herself to combat her fear of heights.
Dolly Morgan, who also is a firefighter with BGFD, was supposed to speak as well but was ill.