Elizabeth Schew: A female fire marshal’s story
This story is part of a series on women in the greater Philadelphia area who have broken the glass ceiling in their respective fields as we head into the presidential election, where Hillary Clinton has shattered the ceiling as the Democratic nominee for president.
“Somebody told me I couldn’t be a firefighter because I was a girl, and I said something to the effect of ‘I’ll show you.’”
That confrontation was in high school between Elizabeth Schew and a boy whose name she has since forgotten.
Schew, now 23, has not only served as a firefighter, but also as an emergency medical technician and a training systems specialist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in fire/arson investigation and fire service administration with a minor in criminal justice.
Now, she serves as one of two assistant chief fire marshals for Chester County and of the two, the only one that is full-time.
And she’s the first woman to take on the job as well.
“It was always ‘you can do anything you want to do,’” she said about her upbringing.
She began her firefighting career as a junior firefighter for the Berwyn Fire Company while she attended Conestoga High School. From there, she stayed in the world of emergency responders.
After graduating from high school in 2011, she attended
the University of New Haven where she graduated in 2015 and received her bachelor’s degree.
While she attended the University of New Haven, she lived and ran with the Trumbull Volunteer Fire Company, and worked as an emergency dispatcher in Connecticut to help support herself through college.
And in 2013, she interned with the Chester County Fire Marshal’s Office.
After graduating from college, she received a job as a training systems specialist at the Chester County Tactical Village in South Coatesville.
She held that position until this February, which was when she had received the job of assistant chief fire marshal for the county.
“Not everybody lasts,” said Berwyn Fire Chief Eamon Brazunas. “But she continued that career path.”
Brazunas said he saw Schew a few weeks ago when his fire department responded to a call.
“It’s nice to have a person you’re familiar with out in the field, someone you know and trust to get the job done right,” he said.
Schew attributed much of her success to her friends and family, and in particular, she mentioned the Thomas J. Hayes Memorial Scholarship Award from the Main Line Chamber Foundation, of which she is a recipient.
She said this scholarship, along with the Trumbull Volunteer Fire Company and work as an emergency dispatcher, helped her get through college.
“It’s important to show girls and young ladies they can do whatever,” she said.
In this October 2015 file photo, Elizabeth Schew stands outside the Chester County Public Safety Training Campus in South Coatesville, when she was a training systems specialist. She went on to become the county’s first woman fire marshal.