WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The City of Wichita’s first female firefighter, Rebecca Chandler, was honored by the Wichita Fire Department’s first female Fire Chief Tammy Snow and Mayor Brandon Whipple, among others, with a surprise celebration on Wednesday.

Courtesy: Wichita Fire Department

“I was completely shocked,” said Chandler.

The surprise came on her anniversary.

“I’ll never ever, ever forget this. Never,” said Chandler.

“She’s a trailblazer,” said Whipple. “If it wasn’t for Rebecca stepping up, stepping out, serving honorably, our city at a time when women didn’t serve in that role, then I don’t know if we would have the progress that we have seen so far in this city.”

Chandler became a firefighter for the City of Wichita in 1983.

Courtesy: Wichita Police Department

“I’m very, very thankful that 40 years ago she decided to transverse some, an arena which was traditionally male, and you know I came on five years after her, but even then, it was a significant amount of stress and endurance and dedication and commitment and perseverance, but if she wouldn’t have paid that opportunity, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Snow.

Chandler said although she grew up with a very hard life, she was taught that women can do anything a man can, even if you have to tweak how you do it.

“You have to tweak it to make it work perfectly, but you don’t have to do it like men always have to do it. As long as the same job gets done in the same amount of time, it doesn’t matter, and that’s what I did,” said Chandler.

Chandler said she enjoyed being a firefighter and shared tips for any women interested in becoming one.

“You really have to start emotionally. You have to start emotionally in yourself, you have to start physically and if you can find a place that you can learn about the love of Jesus Christ,” said Chandler.