by Emily Luxen
MURFREESBORO, TN – The Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department's first female firefighter is retiring after 32 years of service.
Mary Johnson Madding began her career in July of 1982, and has been a trailblazer for future female firefighters in the department.
“In a way, I am proud,” said Madding. “Somebody had to be the first, and it paved the way for other women.”
Madding said it was challenging being the first and only female firefighter at the department.
“It wasn’t easy coming here,” said Madding. “It’s a traditional, all-male job. There wasn’t a place for me.”
Madding said she was determined to prove herself and earn the respect of fellow firefighters and she did, after a lot of hard work and persistence.
“I had a great Captain who gave me a lot of encouragement, and helped me through a lot of things,” said Madding.
Now her fellow firefighters said she will be missed.
“She’s been an inspiration to me, and women in general,” said Capt. David Wade. “She’s a hard worker.”
Madding said she has mixed feelings about retiring, but feels the time is right to step away from a rewarding career.
“We do a lot of good things,” said Madding. “That is what I enjoy most about the job, is helping somebody.”
Madding’s retirement begins Monday. She said she plans to relax and spend more time with her grandkids.