El­iz­a­beth Schew: A fe­male fire mar­shal’s story

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Adam Farence afarence@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @afarence on Twit­ter

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.

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